‘They called me panda, now they call me macho; was hurt when RCB dropped me’
Sarfaraz Khan is only 22, but his career has been nothing short of a topsy-turvy ride. He was believed to be the next batting prodigy from Mumbai, but his career never took off. He then jetted off to Uttar Pradesh for greener pastures. However, his career refused to progress and hence, he made the journey back home. As fate would have it, he peeled off a triple century for Mumbai against Uttar Pradesh in Ranji Trophy and this could be the break he yearned for.
“It’s a proud feeling to return and also join Mumbai’s triple-century club, alongside great players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Wasim Jaffer and Rohit Sharma,” Sarfaraz told ESPNCricinfo.
There have been concerns over his fitness - he was dropped from Royal Challengers Bangalore as Virat Kohli wanted him to focus on getting fit and ready for the trials of top level cricket. There is a visible change in the way he goes about his business and fitness too has improved significantly.
“I was dropped at Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2016 because of my fitness. Virat Kohli told me straightaway while there were no doubts over my skills, my fitness was not letting me get to the next level. He was very honest with me about where I was,” he added.
The young batsman is quite honest about his fitness and his changed diet. He said he put a lot of time in improving himself and what he ate and how he trained and this had an impact even on the way he batted.
“I knew that is when I had to get fitter. So I started working out, running, doing a lot of cardio. I gave up sweets and tried to improve my eating habits. I won’t say I became obsessed with fitness, but I just made small changes to my diet. If I had two portions of something, I changed it to one portion, and gradually cut down on my intake of junk food,” the right-hander said.
“I felt good not just about my improved fitness but because it helped me score runs and get a lead. At one point, all my team-mates used to call me ‘panda’ because I used to eat a lot. Now, they’ve started calling me ‘macho’. Actually, very few people know it’s my nickname now,” Sarfaraz goes on to add.
He has been retained by Kings XI Punjab after having one of his better seasons in the IPL. He confesses that it was hard when he was released by Royal Challengers Bangalore, but is now far more certain of his game with KXIP.
“Being released from RCB hurt me in a way, but I couldn’t do much about it. I had one of the best IPLs so far with Kings XI Punjab last year. I was in the midst of my cooling-off period, so I knew that was my only chance to impress,” he goes on to add.