Updated: January 22, 2020 8:48:10 am
Four-and-a-half years have passed but Sarfaraz Khan remembers tears rolling down his cheeks when he shelved his Mumbai cricket jerseys and packed in the cricketing attire of Uttar Pradesh. He had just finished playing the 2015 IPL, his name had started doing the rounds in Mumbai cricket circles when his stubborn father decided that he will henceforth not play for them but will instead turn out for Uttar Pradesh as he felt his son would get a regular run in the playing XI there.
However, things didn’t pan out as they hoped in Uttar Pradesh cricket, where he says he felt like a migrant, and it was decided that he should come back to his hometown two seasons ago. A cooling-off period was mandatory in Mumbai cricket before he became eligible again. Khan waited. The wait ended this season and he is trying his best to cement his place in the Mumbai Ranji team.
On Tuesday, Sarfaraz remained unbeaten on 132 as he kept up Mumbai’s hopes of a fight on the final day. Mumbai still trail by 272 runs with five wickets intact and only an out-of-the-skin performance can fetch them the first-innings lead.
Mumbai’s two young faces — Bhupen Lalwani and Hardik Tamore — had ensured the team didn’t lose early wickets on the third morning. They added 71 runs for third wicket before debutant Lalwani was trapped in front by Wajid Ali. Tamore’s gritty half-century ended four balls after lunch as he missed the line of a nip-backer from Ankit Rajpoot and lost his middle stump.
Lad and Khan show
Mumbai’s crisis man Siddhesh Lad was himself going through a crisis of sorts this season — he had come into this game with scores of 14, 8, 4, 4, and 0. A lot was at stake and time was surely running out for him. The Lad-Khan show began Mumbai’s fight as they looked to score runs at every opportunity.
Khan looked aggressive, especially with his late cuts. Uttar Pradesh too were guilty of serving him too many short balls and Khan kept guiding them past slips. Out of 14 fours struck by Khan, four came off late cuts. Lad looked to cash in on spinner Sourabh Kumar, and he slammed a six and a four in one over.
As Lad looked to leave his bad form behind, Khan continued the charge, hitting back-to back sixes off Wajid Ali before he used his feet nicely to play inside out to loft left-arm spinner Kumar for a six over cover.
A flick over midwicket took Khan to his first ton for Mumbai this season. He jumped twice, kissed the crest but his eyes remained on the Uttar Pradesh dressing room.
It seemed like a reproach for not having faith in him and telling them that he had no choice other than getting back to Mumbai.
Lad and Khan added 210 runs for the fifth wicket to keep Mumbai’s hopes alive in the game. Lad missed out on a ton as he edged Mohammad Saif to wicketkeeper Upendra Yadav. At stumps, Mumbai are 353 for 5 with Khan and Aditya Tare (9) at the crease.
Later, Khan revealed how his life has come a full circle as he had played for Uttar Pradesh against Mumbai not long ago at the same venue. And on Tuesday, he scored a memorable hundred for Mumbai against his old team.
Brief scores: UP 625/8 decl. lead Mumbai 353/5 (Sarfaraz Khan 132 not out, Siddesh Lad 98; Ankit Rajpoot 3-63) by 272 runs.
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