Sarfaraz Khan has been on a run-scoring spree. The Mumbai batsman scored 138 in the Irani Trophy against Saurashtra in Rajkot and now has one more run than Don Bradman after 43 first-class innings.
In a chat with The Indian Express, Sarfaraz spoke about the record, the process and why he broke down when friend Suryakumar Yadav got picked for India.
How do you feel seeing your name above Bradman?
I don’t have any words. I felt I was finished three years ago and now have a record surpassing Bradman. My hard work has paid off. Nobody thinks that he will set a record, it just happens.
I face around 500 balls in the nets daily. My father has set up nets at home where I can practise facing swinging deliveries. If you look at the past few years, mujhe koi out kahan kiya hai (where have I been dismissed)? How many times has one seen me getting out at slips? It’s only when I have tried to do something else that I have got out. That too when I have passed a hundred. How many times have bowlers hit my pads? Hardly. When I go out to bat, I just want to ensure that the hard work of my father doesn’t go to waste. There is a process which I have followed in these years and I want to continue that. In a match I get to play around 200 balls, it’s far fewer than what I get to play at home.
Can you talk about the process or practice?
I tried to be more attached to the ground. Try to deal with difficult practice sessions. Yehi nahi ki mat pe batting karte raho (Not just batting on mat), it’s of no use. The lights at my home are switched off at 9 pm and are on by 5 am. There are no festivals, birthday parties or any other parties for me and my family. Sometimes people are not ready to accept that I’m good, I was doing well before too. I always feel ki mujhe opportunity kahan mila (Did I get a chance)? I hardly got an opportunity a few years back. I played only three games for Mumbai, then moved to Uttar Pradesh. For UP, I scored a hundred on debut but after a few games, was dropped. I had to come back to Mumbai and undergo a cooling-off period. I was playing the IPL and was asked to play for Mumbai under-23. I told myself ‘Just grab this opportunity’. People then felt that ‘Hey, yeh Sarfaraz toh sirf white ball player hai but somewhere me and my father knew that I’m good against the red ball too. We didn’t just work hard. We ran like dogs, didn’t stop during monsoons, storms – we just practised day in and out.
Sometimes after scoring a hundred, I cry in my room. Three years ago, I was finished but my father bailed me out. There is one sher (couplet) for my father, “woh mein hi tha joh tujhe le aaya kinaare tak, samundar me bahut mauka diya tha doob jaane ka (it’s me who brought you to the shore after giving ample opportunities for drowning in the sea).”
But has this record hit you yet?
Not really. Record aaj upar hai kal neeche jayega (up one day, down the next). I have reached a stage where things outside my game don’t matter. Yes, when you see your name in the records, you feel nice. Kisko achha nahin lagega Bradman ke bagal mein naam aaya toh (who won’t feel good at their name mentioned alongside Bradman’s)?
Many people now must have told you that Sarfaraz, now you will play for India?
Ask any cricketer who enters a cricket maidaan what he wants in his life. The common answer is he wants to play for India one day. I’m no different. Mere naseeb ka hoga toh mujhe milega (If it’s in my destiny, I will get it). At the moment, I’m just walking on the path of my process. Just doing things which I have been doing over the years. For me, my teammates are friends, it’s outsiders who make us competitors. How many times has one scored a hundred in the Ranji Trophy final, Duleep Trophy final and Irani Trophy. I have batted when the team has been 16-3 or 20-3, so to come out from that situation and score has been really pleasing. These are rare occasions and I’m just enjoying it.
You share a special bond with Suryakumar Yadav?
He is a great friend. Before the game, he made a video call and asked about my preparation. He is the one who likes to joke and keep the environment happy in the dressing room. When he was selected in the Indian team, I broke down in the dressing room. I was so happy for him and it feels nice to see that he has been excelling.