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Sarfaraz Khan has always been considered a cricket prodigy. His first real claim to national fame was when he became the youngest player to play in the IPL at 17 years and 177 days. In a star studded batting line up consisting of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers, getting an opportunity to show your class can be difficult, especially in a 20 over innings. But it has been his confidence in his own ability that makes him stand out.
Sarfaraz Khan has cricket running in his genes. His father, Naushad, an ex-Mumbai cricketer is also his coach. His brother, Musheer, is a budding cricketer and has been making waves with his all round skills.
Sarfaraz is an alumnus of Rizvi school in Mumbai, noted for it's rich cricketing history in the Mumbai school circles. He scored 439 off 421 balls in a Harris Shield match for his school, a record at the time. Consistent exploits at school level didn't go unnoticed and he was drafted into Mumbai's squad at the tender age of 16 ahead of the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy. Though, he didn't get too many playing opportunities, it would still have been excellent exposure for someone so young.
He was already playing for his country, at the Under 19 level, by this time. He received a call up for the 2014 ICC Under 19 World Cup and scored 211 runs, averaging more than 70 in the tournament. Along with RCB teammate, Avesh Khan, Sarfaraz was a part of the 2014 as well as the 2016 editions of the tournament and again played well as India finished agonising runners-up to West Indies in 2016.
Sarfaraz is young & aggressive & cheeky. Can anyone forget his 45* off 21 balls in Pepsi IPL 2015 with the likes of Shane Watson & Stuart Binny charging in at him?! His cameo propelled RCB to a score of 200.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 29, 2015
That 'Namaste' from Virat Kohli, though! Sarfaraz's got the cheekiness of the modern day player as well as the resolve to play Test cricket. Although he's been guilty of playing rash, high risk-high reward shots in crunch situations, that's just an aspect of his character. Never one to shy away, he's a vocal lad who has never been afraid to reach out to senior pros in the RCB dressing room such as Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers.
After a debut Ranji Trophy season with Mumbai, he made the move to Uttar Pradesh, the land from where his family hails from. His father was instrumental in that decision and reasoned that he would get more playing time at UP. That, though hasn't happened and his stop-start beginning to his first-class career continued even after his move.
Even in the IPL two seasons later, he hasn't quite been able to make the kind of impact that he would have liked. There have also been disciplinary issues when, as a 15 year old, he was expelled from a batting academy organised by the BCCI. But he's moved on since then and has gone on to become a great team man. He's just turned 20, has his entire career ahead of him and continues to show progress both with the bat as well as mentally. He has also shed a lot of weight and now looks fit enough to save those runs on the field, which would help him secure his place in the team.
We've all seen his wide repertoire of shots and his aggressive play all over the ground. Comparisons to AB De Villiers are a little premature, but he can very well go on to become India's very own Mr.360 degrees!