Sarfaraz: 'My father helped me curb my depression'

The 20-year-old Sarfaraz Khan, retained by RCB for Rs 1.75 crore for IPL 2018, reveals that he went into a depression when a knee injury ruled him out for eight months last year.

A file photo of RCB's Sarfaraz Khan during a practice session.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

He is bulky. He is short. But he is Sarfaraz Khan — the name that once sent chills down bowlers’ spines in Mumbai’s school cricket. The 20-year-old boy from Kurla imbibed the ‘khadoos’ culture from an early age, courtesy his father Naushad Khan, who is also his coach.

The right-handed batsman became the youngest player, at 17, to don the IPL jersey — for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) — three seasons ago. His 360 degree shots surprised experts and skipper Virat Kohli. The upper cut to Shane Watson and the peculiar reverse sweep off James Faulkner still remains a talking point. The youngster missed out on the last season due to a knee injury. He is yet to score a half-century in the cash-rich league but it seems that the RCB management remembered the short bursts — 45* off 21 and 35* off 10 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Read: CSK retains Dhoni, Kohli stays at RCB

On Thursday, RCB retained him for Rs 1.75 crore for the upcoming season, ahead of India player Yuzvendra Chahal and big gun Chris Gayle, which came as a surprise. We rang him up for chat.


Were you expecting to bounce back to the IPL?

I didn’t even know about the process. So, there was no expectation. I want to thank Virat (Kohli) bhai for believing in my abilities. I will try to respect the trust and perform well in the upcoming season.

There is a certain free flow to your batting, what has usually been your approach in the IPL?

It is better to not to plan much. Soch ke nahi khelna chahiye (you shouldn’t think much while playing) my father tells me that. Jo hota hai, accha hi hota hai (whatever happens, is for the good).

How did you cope with your injury and disappointment last season?

An injury before a tournament is tough. I was hurt. Abbu ne bohot sambhala (my father took really good care) and helped curb the depression. I was a bit disturbed for a few days, but I got time to talk to myself and know myself better. 

What all did you learn from the RCB dressing room so far?

A lot, a lot. I can’t pinpoint anything in particular like that. But you grow in confidence when you have a player like Virat bhai, AB de Villiers and Gayle in the side. I feel I play pace bowlers better now. Earlier, my batting wasn’t that great in front of fast bowlers. I time the ball better now.

Also read: Kirsten, Nehra join RCB’s coaching team

You had scored a few runs against Rajasthan Royals in your first season and they are coming back to the tournament now...

It is good that both Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings are coming back. It will make the tournament more competitive. 

What do you plan to do in these months leading up to the IPL?

I want to work on my fitness a bit more. I have to plan the batting once I know who all I will be up against. The team is not made yet. Once that is done, the planning will start.

Do you enjoy your nickname ‘Panda’?

People call me Panda because of Gayle (laughs). I don’t know why he gave me that name.

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