India under-19 batsman Sarfaraz Khan’s family held on to every strand of hope as West Indies Under-19 inched towards the 146-run target in the final at Mirpur, Bangladesh yesterday.

Sarfaraz Khan’s father Naushad is glued to the TV at his Kurla residence as West Indies beat India to win U-19 World Cup. PIC/Swarali Purohit
Sarfaraz Khan’s father Naushad is glued to the TV at his Kurla residence as West Indies beat India to win U-19 World Cup. Pic/Swarali Purohit

"A wicket or two and you never know," said Sarfaraz’s father Naushad towards the end of the match.

Keemo Paul then lofted one through the off-side and Avesh Khan nearly pulled off a stunner. The entire Khan household held its breath, but the Kurla family’s hopes got dashed as West Indies won in the last over. Despite Sarfaraz’s impressive performance in the tournament (355 runs in six matches at 71.00 with five 50s), the pain of losing will linger.

A few well-wishers, Naushad’s cricketing students and journalists assembled in the verandah of his flat. Outside the compound, young men indulged in a game of cricket and normal life continued. Had India won, Naushad’s house would have been the centre of attention with scores thronging to share their happiness. Instead, there was palpable silence which reflected the disappointment.

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‘The end was not good’
"They say, ant bhala toh sab bhala (all’s well that ends well). Unfortunately, the end was not good for us," said Naushad in a philosophical tone. This was the India under-19 side’s chance to make a name for themselves but perhaps, pressure got to them.

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"As Shah Rukh Khan said in Chak De! India, ‘sattar minute hai aapke paas’ (you have 70 minutes)," said Naushad. "They lost an opportunity (to win the World Cup). If there were more partnerships, we could have gone on to make 180. That would have been a good score as the match went into the final over," Naushad explained.

The Indian Premier League is a big platform but this under-19 World Cup presented a different challenge for Sarfaraz. "In his IPL team, there are seniors like Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli so Sarfaraz has the freedom to express himself. But in the under-19 team, the situation is different — he is a senior in the team. He had to take responsibility after wickets fell early. That he handled pressure well in different conditions is a good sign," said Naushad.

Normally attacking, Sarfaraz had to temper his game on numerous occasions to steady the ship. "You could see coach Rahul Dravid’s impact through the tournament. Dravid used to take control if wickets fell. Sarfaraz did it here. This is the impact of being with Dravid," said senior Khan.

Sarfaraz phones home
As Naushad relaxed after attending to numerous interview requests, Sarfaraz called from Bangladesh. The father consoled his dejected son in a short conversation: "Beta, confidence is better than perfection".

The family is now preparing to receive him at the airport. "We will do what is in our control — get up in the morning for practice, play matches and work on mistakes — the rest is not in our control," said Naushad.

Sarfaraz will next play a tournament at the DY Patil Stadium before heading to join Royal Challengers Bangalore for the IPL. For father and son, raising the bar is an undying endeavour.