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Sarfaraz Khan is playing for RCB in this season of IPL © Getty Images

Sarfaraz Khan made a name for himself with his batting exploits for India under-19s. He was one of their impressive performers at the ICC under-19 World Cup 2014 at UAE. He then played for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy. The 17-year-old Sarfaraz is one of the exciting young talents in the country and is set to play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015. Nishad Pai Vaidya caught up with Sarfaraz’s father and coach Naushad and spoke to him about his son’s progress.

Naushad Khan made his way to Bangalore for some work on Sunday, but kept a close eye on the watch. Finishing his assignments, he made his way in time for his son Sarfaraz’s practice game in the evening. For years, Sarfaraz toiled under his father’s tutelage in pursuit of cricketing excellence. Naushad kept a very close eye on his lad’s progress even as he rose through the ranks to play for India under-19 at an age of 15.

This, however, was different. “Sarfaraz is next in,” Naushad said as RCB conducted a practice game. Late last year Sarfaraz donned the coveted Mumbai cap in Ranji Trophy; today, he has an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract. The 17-year-old has clearly made an impression!

In Mumbai’s cricketing circles, the Sarfaraz-Musheer story is well-known. Naushad has devoted his life to his two sons in their collective dream. Sarfaraz shot into limelight when he smashed 439 in a Harris Shield game in Mumbai. Making steady progress, he made it into India Under-19s and made an instant impression. The world caught a glimpse of his talent during ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 in UAE, where his aggressive batting had the opposition in problems a few times. Anyone who has seen him bat would vouch for that very approach — one that has been moulded by constant match practice in the Mumbai maidans.

So, how much does that approach change? “He has carried that form forward from there. Against Baroda in a recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy game, Mumbai needed three off the last ball. Sarfaraz scooped a fast bowler for six. It is that same aggression and he is carrying that forward,” said Naushad as he waited for his son’s turn to bat.

Sarfaraz’s game has been fashioned by his father as they trained at Azad Maidan and in the net setup in their backyard in the Taximen Colony in Mumbai. Naushad knows his son’s game better than anyone, but feels he has to take a backseat now.

“What can I tell him when there are people like Daniel Vettori and Bharat Arun in the Bangalore coaching staff? Arun sir has been with him for India Under-19s and knows him very well. He is in good hands at Bangalore,” Naushad says.

Over the last year Sarfaraz has had some good exposure for Under-19s and in domestic cricket. However, this chance to play with RCB gives him the chance to share the dressing room with big names. “He has got exposure (over the last year). The more he plays with big names such as Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle, he will learn more. This is the age of learning and the more he learns, the more he will progress. This is a great opportunity,” says Naushad.

While Naushad recognises the big opportunity, he is cautious of expectations. Staying in the present is what is most important to him. “I have no expectations. Yes, he has gotten his opportunity and let’s see what happens. It is about being in the present — without expectations,” he says.

A wicket falls and Sarfaraz walks out to bat. “It is Sarfaraz’s turn to bat. Can I call you later?” Naushad politely asks. Their journey has only just begun.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)