After making everyone sit up and take notice of his prodigious batting talent for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the last Indian Premier League, Mumbai was hoping for a similar kind of impact from Sarfaraz Khan in the upcoming domestic season.
However, the 17-year-old's decision to leave Mumbai for Uttar Pradesh — his birthplace — has stumped Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) officials. Sarfaraz was granted a No Objection Certificate (NOC) yesterday by the MCA. Joint Honorary Secretary Dr PV Shetty said: "I was trying to convince his father (Naushad) for a couple of days to let Sarfaraz play in Mumbai.
But apparently Sarfaraz has been guaranteed a place in Uttar Pradesh's Ranji Trophy team by some UPCA official. Once they had made up their minds, I couldn't do much and give the NOC."
Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit was shocked by Sarfaraz's decision. "This is news to me," was his initial reaction. "He is a good, talented young prospect for Mumbai. We will miss a fine talent, no doubt about that. But, since he has made up his mind to leave Mumbai, all that we can do is wish him wellwherever he plays."
Sarfaraz shot into limelight with the then inter-school record score of 439 in Harris Shield at the age of 12. He gradually moved up the ladder and was part of the 2014 India U-19 World Cup campaign in the UAE. He made his first-class debut last year against Bengal apart from being a regular in the age-group tournaments for Mumbai.
Sarfaraz's on-field exploits were equally highlighted as his off-field controversies. Although he has cleared several bone tests, he is still believed to have fudged his age. He has had a few disciplinary issues as well, the latest being a gesture during a Mumbai U-19 match at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground which did not go down well with the MCA officials.
He was pulled up for his indiscipline after the season ended and was let off with a warning after he apologised. However, later on, the MCA officials decided to withhold his match fees of the season for a year.
No grudge against MCA
Sarfaraz's father Naushad clarified yesterday that there was no grudge against MCA. "We can never forget the support and love MCA has given to Sarfaraz. He has been able to reach where he is today because of MCA, who provided him all the facilities and opportunities. We have nothing against the MCA or any officials — past or present. The decision to move to Uttar Pradesh is purely taken looking at his career prospects.
The decision to leave Mumbai wasn't an easy one, but we can't be emotional in our decision-making. We hail from Uttar Pradesh and we have a house there," Naushad told mid-day. Naushad, who is also Sarfaraz's first coach, said his son was consulted before making the decision. "We had a long chat before arriving at this decision. I am sure Sarfaraz will miss Mumbai's set-up," said Naushad.
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