Victory has a very specific sensation. Go into the dressing room of any team at any level after a triumph and it is a tangible presence. There are periodic ‘woo’s’ and clapping as players let out their adrenaline. The atmosphere in the Indian U-19 team dressing room after having handed a crushing 201 run defeat to South Africa in the finals of the four nation quadrangular was no different. Sarfaraz Khan, the hero of the win with an unbeaten 67 in India’s total of 267 and then two crucial wickets up front as South Africa was bowled out for 66, was handing out high fives like they were pieces of toffee.
With the coaches leaving for the airport, directly after the match, the players were left to their own. Unchaperoned, celebrations would continue late into the evening at the team hotel. But Sarfaraz had another reason to get back to the hotel — to gloat. “Aaj wapas jaane me maza ayega. Woh apni room se nahi niklenge. Hamne tod diya unhe,” Indeed if the victory was sweet, even more so was the fact that it came against this particular opposition.
The two teams had played each other just a couple of days back, and it was the Indians what had surprisingly lost as they choked in the last few overs of a chase. What added to the pressure was the fact that plenty of words were said as the chase got tighter. At that time Sarfaraz had succumbed and tried a ridiculous ramp shot which he only edged to the keeper. “Last time around they were sledging us properly and it didn’t feel good. I got under pressure and I tried an irresponsible shot. This time I was prepared,” he says.
India were at 150 for four when Khan came to the crease. The score was a precarious 177 for 5 when Deepak Hooda joined him at the fall of Ricky Bhui’s wicket in the 38th over. While he is a powerful hitter, Khan chose to avoid going for the big hits and