Striking When The Iron’s Hot And a Chord in Everyone’s Heart: The Tale of Sarfaraz Khan’s India Debut

‘Apna time aagaya’: three words that reverberated in the minds of every single Indian cricket follower who witnessed Sarfaraz Khan finally make his debut for India. And he paid them all back in full as the swashbuckling batter notched up a second consecutive fifty against England in the third Test.

Sarfaraz, who has had a tumultuous road to catch his first break, received his debut Test cap from none other than legendary Indian spinner Anil Kumble.

It has been a long time coming for Sarfaraz, who has been putting up stellar performances in domestic cricket galore but has also been struggling to break into the ranks to represent India on the international stage.

Upon his first start, Sarfaraz’s blistering intent was on display for all, as the Mumbai-born batter entertained all those in attendance with a splendid display of sweeps and slogs as he took on the English bowlers in trademark Sarfaraz style to notch up his innings of 62 runs peppered with 9 fours and a six.

But an unfortunate call from to-be-centurion Ravindra Jadeja who was in his nervous nineties led to the dismissal of Sarfaraz, who sacrificed his wicket via run-out to keep the allrounder’s innings alive.

The hearts and hopes of an entire country and those beyond the boundaries who watched fell flat suddenly. Even Jadeja himself could feel the lump in his throat upon what had transpired, as fans and players such as Indian skipper Rohit Sharma alike could not resist but believe in what could have been.

But it would not take much time for Sarfaraz to dazzle yet again as he came out after the fall of the fourth wicket in the second innings and once again, alongside double-centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal, ran riot in yet another quickfire innings of 68*, to score his second consecutive fifty of the match and his career.

With his second fifty, Sarfaraz etched his name into Indian cricket history, becoming just the fourth Indian batter to score fifties in both innings of their debut Test for India. The other names on the esteemed list include the likes of Dilawar Hussain, Sunil Gavaskar, and Shreyas Iyer.

All the credit and glory to the blossoming Sarfaraz indeed. Yet we would be remiss if we, as fans of the game, do not admit that this victory feels more personal and resonates with all those who watched.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we are all aware of the trials and tribulations the someone like Sarfaraz underwent in their journey to reach the promised land of international cricket. The years of toil, of being ignored, and those fleeting moments of hopelessness that strikes all. Or perhaps because we all see in Sarfaraz a reflection of ourselves: the younger child in all of us sports fanatics who yearned to play the game not for fame and fortune, but the one who played because they just loved playing.

Cricket, or rather sport, is rife with these tales. Yet, none of it ever feels outdated. Because how can one ever fathom that an ever-present reality that stands the test of time can become outdated?

In a cutthroat occupation like sport, these are the moments where we, as spectators and admirers of it all, find in ourselves the reason we fell in love with the same. For it transcends the boundaries of our realities and allows us to exist in the moment and relish.

In the 100-odd overs of an ODI, the nail-biting sessions of a Test match, or even the 90 minutes of a game of football, the individuality of what is believed to make us human is suspended, and the sense of community and togetherness that truly makes sports the ultimate social glue triumphs.

At the end of the day, there is no taking away from the sensational brilliance of what one Yashasvi Jaiswal achieved in the same Test, with his swashbuckling double-century.

But, I believe that all stats and records aside, it is imperative that we take a step back and relish in the story of what transpired, not just for those on the field who endured through their own share of experiences, but also for the little kid who fell in love with sport that lives within us all and continues to find the sense of joy, bewilderment, pain and everything that makes us human, even to this day.

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