New kid on the block

DECCAN CHRONCILE | IRFAN HAJI
Published Jun 14, 2015, 11:12 am IST
Updated Mar 28, 2019, 9:25 pm IST
Sarfaraz Khan (Photo Courtesy: BCCI)
 Sarfaraz Khan (Photo Courtesy: BCCI)

After 17-year-old Sarafraz Khan earned a contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore, he had just little hope to make his Indian Premier League debut in the inaugural season. But after cooling his heels for three initial games he became the youngest ever IPL debutant and ended up playing all the remaining 13 games for the star studded RCB team in the IPL-8.

The Mumbai based right-hander got few opportunities to bat in the batting heavy RCB side comprising the likes of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers but he made the most of it with a couple of outstanding knocks. His fearless batting earned him high praises from big players in the dressing room and outside to make Sarafraz feel he belongs here.

 

“I was just happy to get an IPL contract with a big team like RCB and had only some hope to make a debut this season. Everyone in the team looked after me and gave me so much love. I cracked 80 runs in 38 balls in a practice game to catch attention. Big players recognised me when I performed and I felt much better. I started enjoying the game better,” he said.

Sarfaraz got instant recognition with an unbeaten 45 in 21 balls against Rajasthan Royals virtually hitting Pravin Tambe out of the tournament. Incidentally Sarafraz was born when Tambe was an accomplished local cricketer at 26. Few pundits compared his talent to young Javed Miandad of the 1970’s. “Comparing me to Javed Miandad felt great, but I have a long way to go,” he admitted.

 

The young burly cricketer’s instant IPL fame wasn’t an overnight affair. He worked hard for it along with his coach cum father Naushad Khan and two brothers Moin and Musheer in taxing conditions. Regular practice sessions at Azad Maidan coupled with night practice in the makeshift nets near his home in Taximen colony Kurla brought the talent out of him on the field.

At the age of 12 he cracked a record-breaking 439 in the Harris Shield tournament to show he is here for a long haul.  He is a utility leg-spinner also and has rich haul of wickets in junior cricket. He hit a thunderous hundred at Air India Kalina In an exhibition game to impress the journalists and celebrities. Mumbai Heroes skipper Sunil Shetty who was at the receiving end of the onslaught could only sit back and admire the teenager.

 

This game was just a build up for his Under-19 World Cup 2014 sojourn in the UAE where he showcased his talent with both bat and ball in front of the junior cricketing fraternity. Despite having a few fitness issues and being reprimanded by the cricket administrators for allegedly having disciplinary issues, the youngster hasn’t let his focus slip away. He earned Ranji debut for Mumbai and also later won a dream IPL contract with RCB worth 50 lakhs.

He felt the star status when he came back to his Kurla home after finishing IPL engagements. More surprise was the recognition he got during his current tour to native place in Azamgarh, UP. But Sarafraz doesn’t want to be one season wonder. Perhaps taking his friend Gayle’s ‘Panda’ comment a bit seriously he is already utilising holiday time to work on his fitness and gear up for a promising career.

 

 “Gayle is a great guy. He calls me ‘Panda’ because I love eating and resemble the cartoon character. He has invited me to his wedding (in Jamaica) and is sponsoring my trip. I want to go, if I get one-month off period, which seems difficult. “Right now I want to improve on my fitness. I want to lose my weight by a few kilos and I am sure training in 45 degrees here will help my goal,” he said.
 

 

 
 

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