Royal Challengers Bangalore's Sarfaraz Khan is 17, short, stout and struggles to run. He is unlike most of the other well-groomed, chiselled players in their prime. But he has the shots, audacity and an attitude to shine bright on an IPL line-up packed with stars.
Sarfaraz was up against the man-of-the-match in the World Cup final, Rajasthan Royals' James Faulkner. The Australian dug it in short, and the Mumbai player, facing the fourth delivery of his innings, guides it over the wicketkeeper for a boundary.
Off the next delivery, Sarfaraz reverse-swept the left-arm pacer. It did not go to the boundary; it took the back of the bat and didn't clear point. Faulkner had a word, but Sarfaraz looked him in the eye.
A few overs later, he was up against the Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Watson. As the Aussie was on his run-up, Sarfaraz moved away to the leg stump. Rhythm disturbed, Watson bowled a wide.
Amid the refreshing innings, Sarfaraz also treated his Mumbai mates - Dhawal Kulkarni and Pravin Tambe - with disdain.
He paddle-swept Kulkarni and danced down to Tambe's leg spin, cracking a massive six over his head. He is familiar with both the bowlers as he's faced them a fair bit on the maidans of Mumbai.Sarfaraz was served a show-cause notice by the Mumbai Cricket Association for an inappropriate gesture during the U-19 Cooch Behar trophy semifinal. But he played the final for Mumbai, scored a century and won his team the title.
(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
When he returned to the dugout, he was greeted by RCB captain Virat Kohli, who stood there with folded hands to welcome the youngster, whose unbeaten 45 had taken Bangalore to 200 for seven. Rain intervened before the Royals could begin their reply.