Sarfaraz scored another 100 in the ongoing Ranji Trophy tournament ©Getty
Sarfaraz Khan took the time to celebrate his eighth first-class century and struck several poses for the camera. The swinging roar of the bat, the ‘I’m there’ pose, the conventional acknowledgment with the show of the bat and the Sidhu Moose Wala-esque dike flap.
“I did that in the 153 knock (quarter-final) as well, but the cameraman turned the camera elsewhere,” Sarfaraz revealed of his final pose. “So everyone told me the party wasn’t on TV. So I said ‘koi bat nahi, phir aa jaayega’ (no problem, it will come back up)”.
What a dare. He rides on a wave of confidence and lots of runs.
Wednesday he was his usual self. The usual runs, the usual laughter, the usual ‘abbu’ mention and the odd tear – typical Bollywood; predictable but gripping and entertaining, with his bat as good as his speech.
He once again led his team’s strikes, saving them from a precarious position on a tricky surface in the final to help them to a formidable first inning score of 374, setting a good pace 134. The stuff of dreams, he said, of his tearful centenary.
“You all know the roller coaster ride I’ve been on, if it wasn’t for my father I wouldn’t have been here,” he said, choking in his voice at the end of the second day of the Ranji Trophy final in the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. “When we had nothing, I traveled on trains with my father. When I started playing cricket, I dreamed of scoring a century for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. That was fulfilled.
“Then I had a dream to score a hundred in a Ranji final when my team needed it most. That’s why I got emotional after my century and had tears in my eyes because my father worked very hard. All credit to my success goes to him. Without him I would be nothing. He never left my side.
“Often I feel bad when I think about him, because he has always been by my side. He is very happy. In life, some dreams are fulfilled, even if it takes time, but I am glad that I have my father who bail. out of difficult situations.”
His innings, which included both unconventional strict play and some risky but natural rounds over the head of the wicketkeeper, showed a new dimension to his play, with his ability to switch to the extreme ends of the batting tackle.
“My plan was to score fifty when I was hitting with Shams (Mulani), but once he was sent off (from the second ball of the day) I thought there might be a collapse because the ball was also moved around quite a bit… I relied more on timing rather than going for the big shots The situation was such that I had to take care of the team, the other players hitting with me and also scoring points for myself So it was a difficult situation for me.
“It wasn’t until I played the scoop (to go from 88 to 92) that I thought about my hundred. I know Tushar (Deshpande) very well. big shot and gets out). So I thought I should get a little closer. It’s fine if I get out, if I can get in, all my effort (will pay off).”
“I feel that to score a century I have to play at least 200 balls. I cannot have the mentality that this can be achieved by hitting sixes. I can only score big if I have played many balls. I “I’ve tried to play three-four overs from each bowler. Once I get used to the field and know their plans, my drills and preparations are such that I know the runs will flow because I have all the shots.”
Two seasons in a row, with a mountain of runs to show for it, Sarfaraz is announcing itself loudly. National selectors, Sunil Joshi and Harvinder Singh, had a lengthy chat with the batter at the end of the game, which Sarfaraz reveals were impressed by his tact in not playing into opposition plans.
“It was great to talk to the selectors for the first time. They just told me how the opponent blocked my sweep. But I was able to score so high because I avoided that shot, that I showed patience. They told me I played a nice innings and didn’t come under pressure despite my scoring area being blocked.”
Even if his team falls slightly behind in the hard-fought final, with Madhya Pradesh finishing the day at 123 to 1, Sarfaraz exudes confidence. †Lead toh lenge hi lenge (we take the lead no matter what). Even if we don’t take the lead, it will definitely be difficult for them to hit this field in the fourth innings.”