During his early years, Sarfaraz Khan faced many setbacks including his fitness issues and a decline in his domestic form. However, he has now bounced back from his best accumulation points of the past two years in premier class cricket and could secure a place in the Indian Test team in the future.
With the evolution of Test cricket, the longest format batter pattern has changed significantly. There’s constant talk of ‘Bazball’ with the new approach the England team have taken to the Tests since the start of his coaching tenure. Brendon McCullum. But this is not the start of shorter formats rubbing on red ball cricket. It started a few years ago and test cricket has now completely shifted to fast cricket. Jonny BairstowThe centuries of New Zealand series could be seen as the last step in the process. Although we may see a few like Cheteswar Pujara in international cricket in years to come, teams will seek their own’ Rishabh Pantss’ that can impact and change the direction of the match in a single session. Considering this scenario and the possible need to add attacking players to the test squad, their importance is highlighted. Players love Virender Sehwag or Sanath Jayasuriya played a key role for their teams by counter attacking the bowlers. Sehwag’s attack on Ajantha Mendis is still remembered as he troubled most of the Indian batters.
These types of players have a special place in Test cricket and India may also need more of them in the future. Also, they currently have such a player in the national cricket and many former cricketers have vouched for giving him an opportunity in the national team. Sarfaraz Khan is the name that has proven to be a scoring machine over the past couple of years in premier class cricket but his run so far has been a rocky one.
Sarfaraz showed his spark for the first time at the Harris Shield Trophy with a 439-carry run and continued to shine at the junior level. He faced a few roadblocks after that but turned out to be a magnificent top class cricketer. The world of Sarfaraz cricket is a collection of sour memories as well as sweet, but nothing includes the fitness struggles, a break from premier class cricket, the bench warming of IPL teams and the recent pandemic the prevented from continually striving for his goal and the young right-handed hitter credits his father for the hunger that accumulates hundreds after hundreds.
“All credit must go to abbu (dad) because he worked a lot with me. Whenever we had off season or lockdown, we would take the car and drive almost 3000 km to play cricket. My village is in Uttar Pradesh. So Madhya Pradesh is nearby, then from there (we go to) Mathura, (then) Ghaziabad. Everywhere there are many academies where we stop for 2-3 days to play matches The cricket also continues and we learn to read the wickets too, the differences between the black and red ground,” he had said recently according to Cricbuzz.
The last two Ranji Trophy seasons have been a Sarfaraz masterclass. He has racked up over 900 runs each season (928 runs in 2019-20 and 982 in 2021-22). Not only was he the best run-getter of the recent season, he was the No. 2 hitter on the list with over 200 runs. Moreover, he became only the third player to score over 900 points in a two-time Ranji Trophy season and the first to do so in successive editions. Additionally, he scored a class-leading 2,530 runs with an average of 81.61, which is impressive considering he played 37 innings.
The youngster has maintained an unreal consistency over the past couple of years and Mumbai have taken advantage of that. He also got them out of tight spots on several occasions while beating at number five. In the group match against SaurashtraMumbai were reduced to 44/3 but he sewed up a crucial partnership with Ajinkya Rahane when hitting 275 points and helped the team post a total of 544/7. Another chance came against Odisha when they were at 76/3 but Sarfaraz’s 165 shot helped them win the game. Sarfaraz has scored 532 IPL runs at a strike rate of 137.82 which shows his potential to excel at a high level.
Many former cricketers and cricket pundits have praised the youngster saying he knocked on the door of the Indian team. But, integrating him into the playing XI by replacing one of the current cricketers could be a very difficult choice. Rishabh pants and Ravindra Jadeja have been in sublime form lately and Shreyas IyerThe position of is the only place where Sarfaraz can replace him. Shreyas Iyer has been presenting problems against fast short-pitch bowling lately and so if he fails, Sarfaraz will be ready to replace him. Shreyas hasn’t played much test cricket yet so he needs to be tested against point guards who will confuse him with their speed and bounce. Also, how will we know Sarfaraz’s ability to take on international bowlers without putting him in the fight. Additionally, his presence in the lower order may cause two left-handers Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja to have a right-handed companion to make the most favored left-right combination by batting teams.
However, viewing Sarfaraz as a future prospect might be an easier alternative. Indian cricket has a lot of depth considering the number of players they have across the country and so the team sometimes plays two different series simultaneously. A recent example of this was when a second-string Indian side played a T20I series against Ireland while the first-choice players prepared for a one-off test against England. Sarfaraz can certainly be played in such situations when the second string team plays. Also, he may have an opportunity against teams like Sri Lanka or Bangladesh where the teams are relatively weaker and the senior players rest most of the time during these tournaments. Currently, India A may be the best destination for the young right-hander and he can polish his game and hone his skills to compete against top bowlers in the years to come.
Sarfaraz mentioned in an interview with Aakash Chopra that he expected his selection in the national team and it hurt him in the past. His expectations are not only based on emotions, but his recent stats in domestic years speak to his national selection. Seems like the most appropriate way to prepare him through the A-team and minnow country tours at the moment.
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