U-19 World Cup final: Focus on Mumbai's Armaan Jaffer, Sarfaraz Khan
Irrespective of which team wins today's under-19 World Cup final in Mirpur (Bangladesh), February 14, 2016 will be etched in the memories of India's junior cricketers.
Armaan Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan
Every player in this Rahul Dravid-coached Indian team would want to do something extra special to help the Boys in Blue clinch the World Cup for an unprecedented fourth time by beating the West Indies.
Being unbeaten in the tournament is just one of the reasons why excitement competes with anxiousness when it comes to gripping these kids. Ditto their families.
For the fathers of Armaan Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan, the two Mumbai boys in the Indian team, it is going to be nerve-racking day.
Naushad won't be home
Sarfaraz's father, Naushad plans to go into hiding till the India innings is completed. "I am expecting friends, relatives and neighbours at my house. I am sure I won't get to see the match sukoon se so I will go to somebody's place where I can watch the match peacefully," Naushad Khan told SUNDAY mid-day on the eve of the final.
Kalim Jaffer and Naushad Khan
Armaan's father, Kalim won't venture out of his modest Bandra home as he is down with typhoid. "I haven't stepped out of my house for more than a week. I will be confined to my 10x12 sq ft room. However, I am expecting at least 20 to 25 friends and relatives to watch the game with us," said Kalim, the elder brother of India Test opener Wasim Jaffer.
Both Kalim and Naushad have harboured dreams of their sons playing top-class cricket.
They've made their sons toil hard, kept strict vigil on their practice sessions and watched their matches from distant corners of grounds all over the city.
Sarfaraz has been the top run-getter for India at the World Cup so far with 304 runs, aided with four half-centuries in five innings. Naushad said a tough year for Sarfaraz made him mentally stronger to absorb pressure situations.
"To switch to Uttar Pradesh after playing his entire cricket in Mumbai since his childhood wasn't an easy decision.
"He scored a hundred on his Ranji Trophy debut for Uttar Pradesh against Madhya Pradesh (this year's Ranji Trophy semi-finalists). To take on the Mumbai attack at the Wankhede Stadium was also very challenging for him. All this has helped him become mentally stronger and deal with pressure situations," said Naushad.
Armaan, who has scored 155 in five innings at No 5 and 6 in Bangladesh, has somewhat done justice to expectations. "Cricket is after all, a team game. He has implemented the team's plans perfectly. He is also happy with his contribution," said Kalim.
Kalim and Naushad may have impressed upon their sons to avoid getting overawed with the thought of playing a World Cup final, but keeping emotions in check is a challenge for these accomplished fathers as well.