Evening calls between Sarfaraz and Naushad Khan have always followed the same pattern: the father doing the talking and the son quitely listening. Wednesday was different, however. For once, Naushad didn’t have to give a rousing speech to motivate his talented ward. Instead, this time Sarfaraz talked, and the father didn’t mind it one bit.
It had, after all, been Sarfaraz’s greatest day under the sun. Playing for India U-19 against South Africa U-19, the 15-year-old right-hander from Mumbai had bludgeoned 101 off just 66 balls. And that too in a comprehensive win despite having walked in to bat with the hosts in trouble at 93/4, still 182 adrift of their target.
Making news with the bat is not new to Sarfaraz. The youngster has after all made a habit out of it from the time he made headlines for scoring a quadruple ton in school cricket a few years ago. But big scores had eluded him at the U-19 level spare a few half-centuries. A knock of significance was most required. And like Naushad says, his ward couldn’t have come up with it at a better time.
“He was getting starts earlier too but somehow Sarfaraz couldn’t convert them. I think the 55 he scored in the last match brought his belief back. He was short on confidence and being just a youngster, he was worried more about his place than focusing on his performance,” said Naushad.
Prior to his departure to Visakhapatnam for the four-nation tournament, Sarfaraz had spent many hours at the Azad Maidan undergoing heavy training sessions under his father’s watchful eyes. There he had been made to face a few Mumbai Ranji Trophy probables, including former India pacer Aavishkar Salvi. The practice session also involved Sarfaraz having to deal with white balls and at times wet rubber balls on cemented tracks to prepare him for the pace of the South African and Australian colts.
“I had told him that if we have not achieved what we wanted to, then we should go back and practice even harder. It is the only option any cricketer has,” Naushad, a