Those who know Mumbai cricket closely know how strict Naushad is on his sons Sarfaraz and Musheer (also in the Mumbai team), who have no life beyond cricket.
So is Dream India call-up on the cards now? His eyes became moist as he answered the question after taking Mumbai to 374 against Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy final here.
“In our lives, it’s all about the little dreams we give shelter to. The dreams we (he and his father) have together. That’s about 2000 runs in the two seasons I’ve had since my return to Mumbai. Yes, it is because of my ‘Abbu’.”
When there are no matches, the brothers train well for six to seven hours a day under the supervision of their father.
He has disciplinary issues, hasn’t been the establishment’s favorite child, and had to emigrate to UP for a season before coming back and serving a cooling-off period before being picked up for Mumbai again.
“You all go, what happened to me? Abbu na rahete toh main khatam ho hota (You all know what phase I have gone through and if my father was not there, I would have been finished by now).
“What a struggle it has been and when I think about how my dad dealt with it all, I get emotional. He didn’t leave my hand even once. My brother put a status on his cell phone and I could see Abbu very happy. It made my day,” he finally could manage a smile.
A fan of Sidhu Moosewala
When asked whether his thigh thump ceremony is a copy of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala, who was gunned down by a gang recently, he said that was the idea.
“It was for Sidhu Musewala. I love his songs and mostly I and Hardik Tamor (keeper) listen to his songs. I had a similar celebration (in his memory) during an earlier match too, but again, Hotstar didn’t show it. I had decided that after scoring one more hundred, I will repeat the celebrations,” said Mumbaikar.
planning and pats from the selector
Sarfaraz has close to 1000 first-class runs for the season (currently 937) at a Bradmanesque average of 81.
“This is my best innings so far in Ranji Trophy as it is the final and it happened when the team was in a difficult position. We were losing wickets at regular intervals.
“My target was that whatever happens, I will not throw my wicket even if it means playing 300 balls. The more balls I play, the bigger will be my knock,” said Sarfaraz, who scored 134 runs in 243 balls on the day.
A century in a Ranji final is special as it reminded him of carrying a heavy kitbag to a Mumbai local, with father Naushad in tow, and hours of grinding for years.
“When I was a little boy, my dream was to score a century wearing the Mumbai jersey. When I realized that dream, I wanted to score a century in the final of Ranji Trophy when the team was in a precarious position. That is why I was inundated with emotions after the century,” Sarfaraz said.
Sarfaraz said that he had to change his game plan once Shams Mulani was dismissed in the first over.
“Once Shams got out, I thought there might be a collapse right around the corner as the MP pacers were getting little movement off the track. He was bowling good cutters but then I had some partnerships that took me closer to a century.
While he did not specify what national selector Sunil Joshi would have told him about his senior team selection in the future, he did mention that he was praised for beating MP’s strategy.
“Nice to talk to Sunil Joshi sir. He understood that Chandu sir (Chandrakant Pandit) told his bowlers to block my sweep shot and they said it was good that I could rotate the strike even if my pet shot was blocked.
Sarfaraz called for caution for his bowlers, as he felt MP would need to be a bit more disciplined in the third morning to keep a tight grip after scoring 123 for one in reply to Mumbai’s 374.
“We need to be a little more disciplined tomorrow but I can tell you the game is not over. And don’t forget, he has to bat last on this track.
“In any case, we are confident that we will get the first innings lead, but if somehow, we miss the first innings lead, we will get them in the fourth innings,” Sarfaraz said.