Sarfaraz Khan completed his transformation from Mumbai cricket’s resident ‘enfant terrible’ to ‘Man Friday’ with a superb hundred that kept his side ahead of Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy final here on Thursday. Courtesy of Sarfaraz’s fourth cent of the season – 134 on 243 balls – the 41-time champions had a 374 fight in their first innings after starting the day at 248 for five.
But Madhya Pradesh won’t be too unhappy as they finished day two at 123 to one with Yash Dubey (44 batting) and Shubham Sharma (41 batting) adding 76 runs for the unbroken second wicket.
The day belonged to none other than Sarfaraz, who has now scored 937 Ranji Trophy points in just six games and could make 1,000 for the season if Mumbai defeats again in this game.
Ranji Trophy Final Day 2 Highlights – Madhya Pradesh vs Mumbai
His innings had 13 bounds and two huge sixes — one on the square leg of left arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya and one on the ground of off spinner Saransh Jain.
But what stood out was how he handled the sets after Shams Mulani was trapped in the leg by Gourav Yadav (4/106) in the opener of day two.
His batting with the cue showed his newfound maturity which is proving to be a boon for Mumbai cricket. He chose loose deliveries for the border, forcing deputy captain Aditya Shrivastava to open the field.
The way Sarfaraz has reached a milestone since the 2019-20 season (928 races at the time) is phenomenal as he had discipline issues early in his career which also forced him out of Mumbai for a season.
With father Naushad Khan, who is also his coach, making him play 400 balls (nearly 67 overs including nets and shots) a day in training, Sarfaraz 2.0 is a hardened man, the “street fighter khadoos” that any captain would want to go to war with it.
Once he hit his 50s, he touched the lion crest on his shirt making a “don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere” gesture.
Her staff isn’t as nice to look at as Prithvi Shaw’s but very effective. His stick is reassuring. He knows how to score those runs on a track that is largely two-pace and in covered conditions with the ball doing a bit.
When the MP skipper extended the pitch to stop the boundaries, he always found his way to play controlled square setter Anubhav Agarwal, who cut in half the two parked defenders at deep extra coverage and a deep point on the fence .
Entering the 90s, he played a typical T20 scoop over the keeper’s head while partially blindsided and completely off balance.
It was a sight worth capturing.
At 97, skipper MP Shrivastava has put all of his outfield players at the boundary line with two long and long standing.
The ploy wasn’t good enough to stop Sarfaraz as he hit one over the head of the bowler who went to the limit.
The celebration was a battle cry and a thigh kick. There were tears of relief he shed after accomplishing what he set out to do.
The middle order of the Indian Test team is always jam-packed, but the way Sarfaraz knocks, in the words of head coach Rahul Dravid, he doesn’t just knock but knock on the door of the selection.
Sarfaraz has been involved in four small, but very effective, partnerships that could prove decisive if the game turns out to be a one-inning affair.
He added 40 for the seventh wicket with Tanush Kotian (15), 26 for the eighth wicket with Dhawal Kulkarni (1), 39 for the ninth with Tushar Deshpande (6) and another priceless 21 runs for the last wicket with Mohit Avasthi ( 7) .
By the time he became the latest Mumbai batter to be fired, he had made sure the total was good enough for his bowlers to defend.
But there are worrying signs as MP batters have looked solid so far and Mumbai’s bowling lineup hasn’t had much of an impact except for Tushar Deshpande’s delivery which has picked up to find the pads of Himanshu Mantri (31). PTI KHS AT AT
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