Thanks to the IPL, we're in an age where a young cricketer can realize a few of his dreams faster than ever before. A couple of years back, Sarfaraz Khan, at 17 the IPL's youngest cricketer this season, would look at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and talk to himself.
"After training at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) there, I would look around the stadium and jokingly telling myself: 'One day, people would be screaming 'Sarfaraz, Sarfaraz' here. I thought: 'How can this happen to me? However, two years down the line, when I was batting for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, people were actually screaming 'Sarfaraz, Sarfaraz'. I felt good. Dreams do come true," Sarfaraz, fresh from a successful maiden IPL season told TOI on Sunday.
Soaking in all the attention after returning to his city for the first time since he became a star following his exploits for the RCB, the young turk said: "Till now, it hasn't sunk in that I've played cricket at such a high level. It's like I had a dream last night and things are back to normal in the morning. In fact, when I used to wear my pads after fielding, and look around, it wouldn't sink in that I was playing in the IPL!"
During his time away from the family for the past couple of months, Sarfaraz had just one worry: "I missed my dad (Naushad, who is also his coach), but I was tense that if I didn't perform well, then he would scold me," he admitted with a smile.
It was a stint which not only got him the attention of the cricketing world thanks to his unbeaten cameos of 45 not out and 31, but also earned him a 'best friend' in West Indian superstar Chris Gayle. "He has even invited me to his wedding (in Jamaica) next month, but I don't think I'll be able to go," he added. Besides Gayle, there were solid words of encouragement from AB de Villiers too. "I told AB, 'I want to become a big player.' He told me: "I wasn't half as good as you are at this age.' He told me to keep batting the way I do. Don't take much tension. You have very good skill, you'll rise in life."
While Gayle and Darren Sammy were all about fun, De Villiers gave Sarfaraz the real lesson. "I've learnt a lot about Test cricket from him. He told me that Test is good too, if you play it well. I told him I want to do well in Tests. He said, 'You should look to stay at the wicket in the first session. Focus on leaving the ball. In the second session, look to play the ball on the merit. In the third session, one can play freely, because the bowlers are tired'" shared the teenager.