Sunil Joshi, the national selector, caught up and had a long chat with the Mumbai batter. Then it was Harvinder Singh’s turn. A few minutes later, as he raced up the stairs to the locker room for a team meeting, he promised to come back soon to chat with journalists waiting next to the border.
Sarfaraz was cheerful, candid and spontaneous, just like his percussion. In the past three weeks, no two interactions with him have felt the same. It is possible with so many cricketers of the current generation, because they are always focused on the ‘process’ and not the ‘results’. Sarfaraz is driven by results. Driven by the desire to score big runs every time he strikes. This may explain why six of his eight hundred are all over 150 scores.
One minute Sarfaraz had everyone in cracks with his jokes and how a “yes, I’ll hold on, you’ll knock your way” from Tushar Deshpande can only mean a wild slog from the next ball. Then he had tears in his eyes and always so grateful for his abofor his sacrifices in making Sarfaraz and Musheer Khan, his younger brother who is also part of the Mumbai squad, cricketers of some repute.
Musheer has yet to make his first-class debut, but recently led Mumbai to the final of the Under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy, a tournament where he scored 670 runs and took 32 wickets to be named Player of the Tournament.
Sarfaraz’s tears came from a sense of gratitude and respect to his abo†
“You all know the roller coaster ride I’ve been on, if it wasn’t for my dad I wouldn’t be here,” he said, wiping the tears from his face. “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 I got tears in my eyes, because my father worked very hard. All honors for 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 stood by me. 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.”
The century, Sarfaraz said, was devoted to the late Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala. Arriving at the landmark, Sarfaraz slapped his thigh, pointed his right index finger at the sky—Moosewala’s signature move—then roared at his applauding teammates.
“I feel that to score a century, I have to play at least 200 balls. I can’t have the mentality that this can be achieved by hitting consecutive sixes. I can only score big if I’ve played a lot of balls. I’ve tried to play three-four overs from each bowler. Once I get used to the field and know their plans, I know the runs will flow because I have all the shots.”
Sarfaraz hoped Mumbai would show “enormous discipline” on Friday, the third day of the final, if they want to limit Madhya Pradesh, which went to stumps comfortably going at 123 for 1 in response to Mumbai’s 374.
“This game is not over yet, there is still a long way to go,” he said. “If I say something now, I’ll jump in. I’m confident we can take the lead, but even if we don’t, MP will bat last in the fourth innings, and it won’t be easy for them.”
After two consecutive seasons of over 900 runs, Sarfaraz is now firmly on the national selectors’ radar. However, he is strongly focused on the present. “As far as the squad of Team India is concerned, I’m working hard. My focus is just to score runs. Everyone has dreams. It will happen if it’s written in my destiny.”