India vs England: Sarfaraz Khan’s Test debut hopes brighten, Mumbai batter might fill KL Rahul void in Rajkot

Sarfaraz Khan
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900+ runs in back to back seasons in the Ranji Trophy. An average of 70+ in First Class cricket. Third highest average by a FC batter in the history of cricket (70.48). These records have not been enough for Sarfaraz Khan to make his debut in the Indian Test team. A toil of 10 years in gruelling Indian domestic cricket had left Sarfaraz disappointed, as the Indian selectors always found a reason to look away from the short and stout Mumbai batter.

But not anymore.

26-year-old Sarfaraz Khan closed in on his maiden Test match for India on Monday, 12 February as KL Rahul was ruled out of the Rajkot Test match, which starts on 15th of this month.

While the long-awaited chance comes in the background of the unfortunate event of KL Rahul failing to recover from his quadriceps injury, but such is the world, such is life. One man’s problem is another man’s opportunity.

The BCCI announced via an official statement that KL Rahul had been ruled out of the third Test match.

“KL Rahul, whose availability for the remaining three Tests was subject to fitness, has been ruled out of the third Test against England in Rajkot. Mr. Rahul has reached 90 per cent of match fitness and is progressing well under the supervision of the BCCI Medical Team,” the BCCI said in a statement on Monday, 12 February.

“He will continue his recovery process at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru to be completely match-fit for the fourth and fifth Test,” the statement further added.

Fan Favourite Sarfaraz’s Best Chance

A fan favourite on the Indian domestic scene, many have called for Sarfaraz’s inclusion in the Indian team over the past two years. A prodigious talent in the Indian cricketing landscape, Sarfaraz’s performance have gained him a cult following already – at the age of 26.

Sarfaraz’s journey in the Ranji Trophy has been nothing short of remarkable. Playing for Mumbai, he has consistently been a standout performer, amassing an impressive tally of 3912 runs in just 45 First-Class matches.

Sarfaraz was included in the Indian team after doing well against the England Lions in the ongoing series. Sarfaraz scored 96, 4, 55 and 161 for the A team and received his maiden call-up in the second Test match against England. The batter had to sit the game out after India handed Rajat Patidar a debut in Vizag. If the tradition continues to trust First-Class players and their time spent with the Indian team, it is highly likely that Sarfaraz Khan will make his debut in Rajkot, ahead of Devdutt Paddikkal, who has been named as a replacement for KL Rahul.

“I’m an attacking player but when an attacking player develops some patience, he can become really dangerous. There was still some problem in my technique, but my father and I worked on that a lot. So I learnt to stay on the wicket and knowing exactly where my off stump is in red-ball cricket,” Sarfaraz Khan had said back in 2022 while he was grinding it out in the Ranji season.

“I would play 600-700 balls every day at Cross Maidan and at home combined, especially against the swinging ball. If T20s are coming up then I just hit out in the nets, like playing the cut and pull. For day’s cricket [first-class games], I would focus on leaving the ball because once you see through the first hour or so, you can get going and nobody can stop an attacking batsman like me,” Khan had revealed his mind-boggling commitment.

On 15 February, the 26-year-old would hope to make the most of it, if given a chance in the playing XI. After all, the chance has not only come on the basis of his talent, it has come after years of blood, sweat and tears.

Published By:

Kingshuk Kusari

Published On:

Feb 12, 2024

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