There is so much competition for a spot in the India team that you will need to bang the doors open with your performances, coach Rahul Dravid has said. Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan is certainly on the verge of doing that. After his hundred in the Ranji Trophy final, it has become a case of when to pick him in the India team. HT spoke to former selectors on Khan’s India prospects:
I believe that he is at the peak of his career and he is in great form. Year after year he has been scoring runs. Especially getting a hundred in the Ranji final, the way he grafted in the first part of his innings was wonderful. He showed excellent temperament, then improvised and scored a very important hundred. Scoring a hundred in the Ranji final, Duleep Trophy final is a good sign. It is the hallmark of a good player. In think, he can be inducted into the one-day and T20 sides to start with and in the India A side. And, of course he should be in the short list for the Test team as well.
It was a superb innings. There are a lot of big players who have not got a hundred in the final, you work for the whole year and if you get a hundred in the final as well that is terrific. I don’t know which place (directly, in the Test side) they will give him a chance. You don’t want to drop people who are already doing well. If there is a place then selectors can think about it. Definitely you get him ready him by giving him a chance in the India A team, on every upcoming tour, so he will be ready whenever there is a place in the senior team. That’s what first-class cricket is all about, giving confidence to the players that you can also be selected if you do well in domestic cricket. That is atmosphere you have to create.
Incredible innings! The goal of the batter is score runs. More important than the runs is the situations in which those runs are scored, Sarfaraz has always got contextual runs. He has a big, big future. The selectors will also look at what kind of impact he has on his team. The world is in front of him right now. Nothing troubles him, pace, spin. This innings also showed he knows where his off-stump is. I think the only way is up for him. Somebody from the selection committee will be talking to him and telling him that these 1800 runs will not go in vain, you will be given a consistent platform. That is the way they will approach. It’s a question of what are the vacancies in the Indian team. There is a backlog of batters, so they will have to figure out and come up with a plan that figures a lot of India A cricket to bring him into the close circuit of 30-25 most promising cricketers. If I am not wrong, they (selectors) will sit down with him and explain how they will pipeline a plan through India A. I don’t know what is the calendar for India A, but they will give a lot of exposure to him. You can’t straightaway take him up because there is no place only. I think, it’s all a factor of what the need of the team is. For example, there is certainly a need for a chinaman bowler so Kuldeep Yadav is back in the squad. So it all depends on what the need is.
Under pressure and in the final… If you score a hundred in the final, it means he is a champion player for me. It is very clear that he knows his mind totally, the way he built his innings, super innings. To play Test cricket you should know how to build your innings and he showed his class. Regarding the point of getting into the Test team, he is ahead of the other players (competition). For me, it is superb sign for Indian cricket.
India A is also a very solid platform, at the moment the team which is going to play the next Test is packed. India A really helps to be ready for Test cricket. Earlier, we used to be part of the team and play the side games on the tour. I got into the team in 1983, made my debut on 1986, so when I made my debut it helped quite a lot. I had two-three tours of experience.
Sarfaraz has been there around, went to South Africa tour also. He is doing very well, it is a great sign for Indian cricket.