BENGALURU: After young Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan thumped a terrific 134 in the Ranji Trophy final against Madhya Pradesh, former Indian batsman Praveen Amre – who had scored a century on his Test debut – lavished rich plaudits on him in an exclusive interview with The New Indian. Amre was also a coach of the Mumbai team and has seen Sarfaraz’s rise from close quarters.
This is Sarfaraz’s fourth century of this Ranji season and he has already racked up over 900 runs. The 24-year-old got emotional as his eyes welled up after he reached his ton. However, he soon composed himself and celebrated the landmark by doing Sidhu Moosewala’s signature step of smacking his thigh and pointing his finger towards the sky.
“It’s a special feat to score more than 900 runs in the Ranji season. The way he is batting is superb. He has been the lynchpin of Mumbai batting this year and has now become an integral part of the setup. The 41-time champions Mumbai haven’t won Ranji Trophy for a few years. His performance has given them a great chance to lift the coveted trophy this time,” Amre asserted.
The former batsman, who played 86 first-class matches in his career, opines the turning point in Sarfaraz’s career was his decision to move back to Mumbai after playing for Uttar Pradesh for a few years. “There is a perceptible change in his attitude from the time he has moved back to Mumbai. The steadfast resolve and hunger for runs are there for everyone to see. Sarfaraz has always been prodigiously gifted but now he’s harnessing his talent optimally,” he said.
He continued: “Sarfaraz was always exceedingly fluent against spinners. But in the last few years, his shot selection against pacers has become better. He looks more assured against fast bowlers now and has become an all-round batter. The fact that he has been scoring so many runs at the first-class level is a testimony of his technique.”
When asked about Sarfaraz’s fitness, Amre puts forth a nuanced take. “He has worked on his fitness in the last couple of years. His efforts are visible. One can’t reel off big innings and score handsomely if one is unfit. See, sometimes the reason behind fitness can also be genetic. Ultimately if a cricketer is performing so well and isn’t a burden on the team, there shouldn’t be question marks on his fitness. One needs fitness to excel at sport and perform on the field. That’s the essence of fitness,” he reasoned.
Before his ton again in the final, Khan had scored 275 against Saurashtra, 63 & 48 against Goa, 165 against Odisha, 153 against Uttarakhand in the quarter-final and 40 & unbeaten 59 against Uttar Pradesh in the semi-final. He has been instrumental in Mumbai reaching the final of the Ranji Trophy this year.
Though Sarfaraz was earmarked as a batting prodigy at a young age, his journey hasn’t been a bed of roses. He leapt to the limelight when at the age of 12, he broke the record for the highest score in the Harris Shield inter-school tournament by clouting 439 for Rizvi Springfield. His innings included 56 fours and 12 sixes. However, he soon found himself in the throes of controversy when he was suspended by the Mumbai Cricket Association on charges of fudging his age.
Soon after he shifted to Uttar Pradesh and represented the state in the Ranji Trophy but returned to Mumbai in 2018. Since then, he has been making waves in the domestic circuit with his superlative batting exhibitions.
Playing for Mumbai, the swashbuckling batter had also notched up 928 runs in nine innings during the 2019-20 season. After a phenomenal show this year, he is now knocking hard at the doors of the Indian Test team. In fact, a host of netizens and cricket experts are rooting for him to be included in the Test team after his consistently stellar performances.
Looking at his pedigree and performances, he might be the next Mumbai batsman to make a splash at the international level.
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