Sarfaraz Khan: Prithvi, Yashasvi and I have learnt the hard way

Mumbai and Kings XI Punjab batsman Sarfaraz is currently in Chhatarpur village in U.P. He is running by the agricultural fields to maintain fitness.

Mumbai batsman Sarfaraz Khan amassed 928 runs in the Ranji Trophy last season, at an astounding average of 154.66.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

Sarfaraz Khan made a mirror-cracking comeback for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy 2019-20. A triple, a double and overall, 928 runs at an astounding average of 154.66. At present, the gun batsman is locked in his maternal home in Chhatarpur village, 17 kms from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, but there is no end to his hunger for perfection.  

To avoid air travel, the family drove to U.P. on the brink of the lockdown as COVID-19 cases were on a rise in Mumbai. The 22-year-old, with the help of his father, Naushad, found alternative methods of training to keep the hunger alive.

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“There are agricultural fields here. So I can run freely. Not too many people around. I do it in the evenings as we have the Ramadan in the morning. I do one day of long-distance running, followed by a short-distance one, then agility and weight training with the help of my father,” Sarfaraz told Sportstar on Thursday.

At their terrace, bedsheets are being used as nets while plastic balls are being thrown at Sarfaraz.

 

The rise of Yashasvi

Sarfaraz has been around for a while, but in the past two years, two biggies have emerged from Mumbai.

Prithvi Shaw led India to victory in the ICC U-19 World Cup in 2018 and made his international Test debut thereafter. Yashasvi Jaiswal impressed in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and ended up as the top run-scorer in the ICC U-19 World Cup 2020.

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Shaw was pulled out of Mumbai's Ranji campaign midway due to a left rotator cuff injury. Later, he toured New Zealand with the Indian team. Yashasvi was set for his maiden IPL with Rajasthan Royals.

“If Prithvi would have been there, our team would have gained in Ranji. In Mumbai, we learn the hard way. Prithvi, Yashasvi and I have played a lot of cricket in Azad Maidan. It is a very difficult ground to learn cricket. The wickets aren’t that good and after doing the hard yard there, wickets in Wankhede and other grounds seem lot more easier,” said Sarfaraz, adding, “Yashasvi has lived in Azad Maidan. At times, I have slept the night on the pitch and then, caught the first train back home. The hard work of travel, hunger and passion to do well in Mumbai makes you a tough character.”

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Life without IPL

The Indian Premier League helped Sarfaraz make great strides early in his career. He started with Royal Challengers Bangalore and then, moved to Kings XI Punjab. More than missing the cash-rich league, he is concerned about the health of people around the world.

“It felt weird not to have the IPL definitely. I am also feeling bad that the entire world is going through anxiety. It feels sad because there are so many sportsmen who are worried,” he said.

Having endured an eight-month knee injury layoff in the past, Sarfaraz is mentally strong during the no sports period. “It is similar to serving an injury layoff. If a player picks up a shoulder injury, he will have to sit out for five months. It depends how you take to it mentally,” he said.

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