Starved of quality batsmen, UP offers more scope to Sarfaraz Khan

Everyone has a dream. Sarfaraz Khan’s is to play for Team India. The wonderkid’s decision to move ‘UP’ in life is a clear reflection of our life and times: identify the goal and chalk out a convenient, hurdle-free path to get there.

Virtues like patience and loyalty don’t necessarily mean much. And the truth is that they don’t always have to. What matters is the determination: the hunger for success and how quickly one wants to achieve it. And Sarfaraz is second to none on these fronts.

Now 17, Sarfaraz has set the city’s maidans on fire all his life. From notching up double, triple and quadruple hundreds with ridiculous ease to sharing the dressing room with the likes of Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli in the IPL, Sarfaraz has tasted like few have.

So what prompted him — more specifically his father and coach, Naushad Khan — to bid goodbye to Mumbai and choose to represent Uttar Pradesh, his home state?

There is no right or wrong answer here. “All I can say is that I thank the Mumbai Cricket Association for everything it has done to help my son reach where he is today. We are indebted to them. But it’s time for him to move on,” Naushad said, without elaborating. Several MCA bigwigs, none of whom wished to be named, had just one message for the boy: “Good luck and may all your dreams come true.”

Sarfaraz, whose records in school cricket have earned him plaudits from Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, broke into the Mumbai team last season. A string of good performances in the ICC Under-19 World Cup, where he was the third-highest run-getter for India, helped his cause. However, he was dropped after scoring 95 runs in three Ranji Trophy games.

One thing led to another and Sarfaraz got a Rs 50-lakh deal from the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He tallied 111 runs in 13 matches, including a coming-of-age unbeaten 45 off 21 deliveries against the Rajasthan Royals.

Now for the ‘real’ reasons behind his departure.

The boy reckons that taking the Mumbai ‘route’ to Team India may not necessarily bear fruit in the immediate future. Whatever said and done, the city continues to produce impeccably talented batsmen at all levels.

Despite the prolonged absence of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, who are mostly on international duty, Sarfaraz will not be a first-choice pick in the Ranji team. This, the boy’s supporters in the highly politicised cricketing set-up of Mumbai believe, is unfair to someone who has defied age and experience all along. But to be fair to the senior selection committee of the MCA, you can’t assure a novice of a long run in the team. Certainly not in Mumbai.

Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association boss Rajeev Shukla, also a high-profile politician, has promised Sarfaraz a fair shot. Submit a ‘No Objection Certificate’ procured from the MCA, report to the camp and selection trials.

That UP don’t have a star-studded batting line-up will only work in Sarfaraz’s favour. Tanmay Srivastava (389), Eklavya Dwivedi (379), Umang Sharma (320) and Piyush Chawla (301) were the top run-getters for the state in the Ranji Trophy last season. Four Mumbai batsmen tallied more than 500 runs, with Shreyas Iyer topping the charts with 809 runs at an average of 51.

Back to the life and times analogy. Sarfaraz’s decision to look for greener pastures has surprised many because he is still a teenager. Over the years, many a Mumbai great has ‘moved on’. Sandeep Patil, Pravin Amre, Chandrakant Pandit, Sulakshan Kulkarni have all given up the lion’s crest for other logos.

Wasim Jaffer is the latest to do so. Maybe Sarfaraz doesn’t want to do it their way. Maybe he doesn’t believe in waiting. Maybe, for him, the time is now.

Posted by on July 23, 2015. Filed under Sports World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.