Sarfaraz Khan grabs the IPL limelight
In a line-up comprising Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, it is tough to get noticed, but Sarfaraz Khan drew the attention of not only the crowd at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday with 45 runs off 21 balls, but had the Twitterati going gaga over his big-hitting mastery.
Commentator and former England player David Lloyd tweeted urging English County teams to rope him in.
17 year old Sarfaraz, is the youngest to play in the Indian Premier League. Against Rajasthan Royals, he walked in when de Villiers was run out off the last ball of the 14th over after scoring a 45-ball 57. Sarfaraz’s charge began with an upper-cut four off James Faulkner in the 16th over. Then a back of the bat reverse sweep – where the risk seemed to outweigh the reward – with a close infield fetched just one. Sarfaraz wasn’t too thrilled, he smacked Faulkner’s next to the third-man boundary.
In the next over, two fours came off Shane Watson, both in the direction of third man – an outside edge and a cheeky ramp shot – leaving the experienced Australian looking a bit out of ideas.
Despite losing Dinesh Karthik to a run out, Sarfaraz extended his reign on the night.
It was Pravin Tambe’s turn to be the target. The first four was a sweep over fine-leg. The next one had him storming out and launching the 43-year-old legspinner over the long-off fence. Then came an inside-out drive that went past the long-off boundary in an over that fetched 18 runs.
Sarfaraz, by then, had caught the attention of both the dugouts. He had also captured the imagination of the crowd, which chanted ‘Sar-far-raaz, Sar-far-raaz’.
Even the Twitter world went gaga over the new star on the block. Sensational Sarfaraz, they called him. From VVS Laxman to Michael Vaughan to Tom Moody, everyone raved about the short and slightly plump right-hander’s fearless approach. David Lloyd even urged English county teams to rope him in as soon as possible.
“I’ve always advised him to play tough, fearless cricket,” Naushad Khan, Sarfaraz’s father and coach, told Wisden India. “He wasn’t nervous that he would be facing some of the best international bowlers in the IPL. He has always batted that way.”
It must have helped that B Arun, Sarfaraz’s Under-19 coach and Bangalore’s assistant coach, has never been short of valuable advice. “Bharat sir was a lower-order batsman himself, he was aware of Sarfaraz’s talent and got him to bat at No. 6,” pointed out Naushad. “It is one of main reasons for Sarfaraz’s aggressive style of batting, he knows his role well as a finisher.”