The mountain of runs that he scored in domestic circuit might have opened the doors of Indian cricket to him, but for Sarfaraz Khan the learning never stops as he aspires to join the league of legends like Virat Kohli, Viv Richards and Javed Miandad. Sarfaraz has been recently drafted into the India squad for the second Test against England starting here from Friday after KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja were ruled out due to injuries. The prolific Mumbai batter turned into a fan-boy while discussing his learning process.
“I like to watch Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Sir Vivian Richards, and even Javed Miandad because my dad has told me that I play like him. I watch Joe Root’s batting also.
“Anyone who is succeeding, I am watching them to see how they are doing it so I can learn and apply it. I want to continue doing this, whether it’s in the Ranji Trophy or playing for India in the future,” Sarfaraz told JioCinema.
But then there is a real-life hero for Sarfaraz — his father Naushad Ahmed — who dedicated countless hours to make his son a cricketer.
“My father introduced me to cricket, and I always wondered why am I even playing. I am an attacking batsman and I used to get out sooner than others and scoring big runs was getting difficult.
“It was disheartening to see others succeed while I wouldn’t be among the runs. But my dad always believed in hard work, and everything I have is a result of that work,” said Sarfaraz.
In the 2015-2016 domestic season, Sarfaraz opted to play for Uttar Pradesh after he ran into trouble with Mumbai selectors during an under-19 game.
Sarfaraz said his dad would travel to UP or wherever the team played to watch him bat.
“Even when I moved from Mumbai to UP, he would take flights to come and see me. He would start bowling to me on the terrace or the road itself before selection trials.
“Now I realise the impact and importance of those efforts,” he added.
After two modest seasons with UP, Sarfaraz decided to return to Mumbai after gaining a NOC from UPCA and the 26-year-old admitted it was a tough moment for him.
But Sarfaraz said his father was the pillar of strength in this phase.
“When I came back to Mumbai from UP, I was scared if this would bring a halt to my career and I strongly felt there was no future ahead of me.
“But my dad always stood by me. There’s no guarantee in life if you don’t get opportunities,” he said.
But there were opportunities galore for him in Mumbai and his career blossomed there.
Now, Sarfaraz has 3912 runs from 45 First-Class matches at an average of 69.85 with 14 hundreds and 11 fifties.
Even in the red-ball format, Sarfaraz strikes at 70.48, making him a standout performer.
So, how does he score so consistently? Sarfaraz revealed the secret.
“My strength is that I am not easily satisfied. I play 500-600 balls every day. If I don’t play at least 200-300 balls in a match, I feel like I haven’t done much. It’s a habit now.
“If you want to play five-day cricket, you have to stay patient and practice every day. I play cricket all day and that’s why I can stay on the pitch for a long time,” Sarfaraz added.