‘Sarfaraz Khan Deserves India Call-up’: Chetan Sharma Wishes to See Youngster Make the Most of Opportunity

Written By: Aakash Biswas

Last Updated: February 01, 2024, 18:44 IST

Former India selector heaps praise on Sarfaraz Khan

Former India selector heaps praise on Sarfaraz Khan

An untimely injury to Rahul paved the way for Sarfaraz’s entry into the squad and the Mumbai batter is now just a step away from living his dream – playing for the country.

14 First-class centuries and almost 4000 runs later, comes the maiden national call-up for Sarfaraz Khan. The BCCI on Monday made a vital announcement, confirming the unavailability of two mainstays – Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul – for the second Test against England in Vizag starting Friday. While Jadeja hurt his hamstring during the series opener in Hyderabad before heading to the National Cricket Academy, Rahul complained of pain in his quadriceps.

The past couple of years were full of anticipation and frustration for the 26-year-old. He was scoring a truckload of runs in the domestic circuit awaiting a maiden national call-up.

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Sarfaraz kept waiting and was left disappointed every time an India Test squad was announced with his name excluded. And a similar story unfolded when the BCCI named the squad for the first two England Tests.

However, an untimely injury to Rahul paved the way for Sarfaraz’s entry into the squad and the Mumbai batter is now just a step away from living his dream – playing for the country.

Former BCCI chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma calls it a ‘rightly deserved’ opportunity for Sarfaraz.

Speaking with CricketNext at the launch of Asian Legends League, Sharma said a youngster only gets an opportunity when there’s a scope of fitting him in the Indian team adding that Sarfaraz must utilize it now and make the most out of it should he get a chance to make his debut.

Jab jagah banegi, tabhi mauka milega (You will get the opportunity only when there’s space in the team). I keep saying this to youngsters that you keep following the process. Just keep doing your work. Just work hard and forget about the rest. You will definitely get the outcome only if you have worked hard,” Sharma told CricketNext.

“Sarfaraz did so and he got the chance. And he deserves it. It is also a lesson for the budding youngsters that, don’t think much about the selection. If someone is good, he will definitely get the opportunity. But also keep in mind that whenever you get it, just make the most of it,” he added.

Sarfaraz may be in the line for making a Test debut for India but he faces stiff competition with fellow uncapped batter Rajat Patidar. India batting coach Vikram Rathour, while addressing a presser on Wednesday, didn’t take a name specifically and said it’s up to the captain and coach to take the call as per the conditions.

Experience is a must

The squad for the first two Tests comprises a few youngsters who have replaced the veterans Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. Both are currently grinding in the ongoing Ranji Trophy and are having contrasting seasons.

While Pujara has had phenomenal outings so far this season, Rahane has been biting the dust.

Playing for Saurashtra, Pujara opened the season with a double-century against Jharkhand and recently scored 91 against Services in a drawn game. In between the two encounters, he accumulated three 40-plus scores.

On the other hand, Mumbai captain Rahane has registered scores of 0, 0, 16, 8 & 9 in 5 innings.

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Sharma didn’t delve much into the selection process stating that he isn’t aware of the vision of the Ajit Agarkar-led selection committee but fees that a team needs experienced players in Test cricket.

“Pujara is a big player. He got a double hundred [against Jharkhand] this season. But it entirely depends upon what the selectors are concentrating upon. Anyway, Ajit Agarkar might answer this question better than me,” Sharma quipped.

“Those who have been selected… they are talented. They possess the capability and that’s why they are a part of the Indian cricket team. Experience does matter in the longest format but maybe the younger lot has more spark. That’s all I can say,” he signed off.

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