Mumbai: Jamaican giant Chris Gayle is his workout partner. South African maverick AB de Villiers feels his scoop shots have better execution. Darren Sammy can’t get enough of him and Mitchell Starc is his best friend.
Seventeen year old Sarfaraz Khan, the youngest player to feature in the cash-rich Indian Premier League, has just completed a dream debut season.
The Mumbai boy proved his pedigree with a 21-ball 45 in a washed out game against Rajasthan Royals first and then hit a measured 31 off 21 balls for RCB on a difficult pitch in the Qualifier 2 against CSK.
Gayle’s parting IPL tweet was reserved for Sarfaraz, whom the big man said would miss the most. The tweet also had a message that said the future belongs to him, if he wants it.
“When I got an opportunity to bat with ABD (against KXIP at home), I told him my dream has come true. He stopped me and said this is just a start. When I hit a scoop for a boundary, he told me it was better than his,” said Sarfaraz after returning from Ranchi.
The youngster said the experience of rubbing shoulders with the greats has been priceless.
“Everyone in the team looked after me and gave me so much love. There are so many things I learned and observed. Batting in the nets against Starc, who bowls at 145 kmph, was a rich experience. It has given me so much confidence that now I can face anyone. Starc is my best friend!”
Sarfaraz thanked captain Virat Kohli for backing him. “When I got out for 11 in my debut game, I felt I would never get a game again. But Kohli showed faith in me. He has given me his bats. Kohli is a wonderful captain and I am sure in the years to come he is going to be among the most successful Indian captains.”
Talk about Gayle, and Sarfaraz’s eyes light up. “Everyone in the team hit the gym together, but only Gayle worked out separately. He would tell me ‘come buddy let’s work out.’ I was his workout partner and observed his match routine keenly.
He calls me ‘Panda’ because I love eating and resemble the cartoon character.” The RCB support staff has advised Sarfaraz to work on his fitness. “Everyone said I must continue what I have been doing. Now I am going to focus more on my fitness.”...