A little over 12 hours after remaining unbeaten in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final to help Mumbai win its maiden domestic T20 title, Sarfaraz Khan arrived in Mumbai on Monday morning.
Instead of heading home from the Mumbai airport, he hopped on to the car driven by his father-cum-coach Naushad and headed straight to Sunder CC plot at Cross Maidan in south Mumbai.
Three hours hence, the maverick batter raced to a 94-ball 157 to set up Parkophene Cricketers’ comfortable win against Khar Gymkhana in a league game of the prestigious Purshottam Shield.
More than sleep-deprivation - he slept just two hours - Sarfaraz admitted that it was the maidan conditions that posed a greater challenge. “The pitch posed the greatest challenge. Having been playing at the higher level for a while now, I hadn’t played a match on the maidans, so had to adjust to the conditions. I thoroughly enjoyed it, since it was important for the team and even for myself to switch into one-day mode,” Sarfaraz told Sportstar on Monday.
It wasn’t the late-night celebrations but odd flight timing that resulted in him being sleep-deprived. “All of us had different flights to catch, so we didn’t really have a proper celebration. By the time I packed and slept off, it was 1 o’clock in the night. I had to check out at 4 am to catch the flight (at 6.10 am),” he said.
Sarfaraz played an instrumental role in the final against Kolkata on Sunday night, tonking a six and two fours in the penultimate over to turn the game in Mumbai’s favour.
“That over was critical and it was extremely satisfying to make a vital contribution when the team needed it the most,” Sarfaraz said.
Besides his cameos in the latter half, the highlight of Sarfaraz’s Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign was his impressive wicketkeeping in a new avatar. Sarfaraz has rolled his arm over regularly with leg-break bowling in competitive cricket but it was the first time he kept wickets in a big game.
Sarfaraz cited that he wasn’t a stranger to keeping wickets, having donned the gloves for Mumbai Under-14 and in a few Royal Challengers Bangalore and Under-19 World Cup practice matches.
“It wasn’t a sudden decision. To ensure the balance of the team, I was told to be ready to keep wickets even for the league stage but Hardik Tamore did the job eventually,” Sarfaraz said.
“For the knockouts, I was given the role and I am glad it came off well. Saba Karim sir (former India wicketkeeper and former national selector) called me up and complimented me for doing a good job. Playing on the maidans as a kid, you learn to do everything, so I was confident of delivering when the team wanted me to play the role.”
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