Playing for India alongside Sarfaraz would be an ‘unmatched feeling’, says Musheer Khan

Musheer Khan has been in the limelight with a string of solid performances. Source (X)

In the lanes of Mumbai, where cricket is more than just a sport, Musheer Khan’s emergence is more than just a young talent making his mark in senior cricket. It is a journey from the gully to the grand stage of the U-19 World Cup and then the Ranji Trophy. Behind every boundary scored and record shattered lies the silent sacrifice of a father, Naushad Khan, whose unwavering belief in both his sons, Sarfaraz and Musheer, has been the driving force behind their meteoric rise. As Musheer’s story unfolds after a record-breaking century in the Ranji Trophy final, it illustrates not only the power of passion and perseverance but also the profound bond betweenfather and sons, united in pursuit of a shared dream.

Fate had other plans for Naushad, who dreamt of playing for India, but while his own aspirations remained unfulfilled, he poured his heart and soul into cultivating the talents of his two boys. Sarfaraz, the elder brother, would go on to make headlines with his Test debut against England. Musheermade his presence felt as India’s best all-rounder in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, before helping Mumbai win their 42nd Ranji Trophy.

“It’s a proud feeling for the entire family, especially our abbu,”Musheer told RevSportz in an exclusive interview. “I played Under-19 World Cup, Sarfaraz got his Test cap, so it is a proud feeling for my father, mother, and my brother Moin as well. It’s a great feeling to have. I can easily say that our cricketing careers are dedicated to father and mother.”

Similar to Sarfaraz, Musheer is also a busy operator at the crease. Be it a tap on the helmet, glancing at the field placements, or taking constant singles and twos, the youngster keeps the opposition thinking.

“I love taking singles,” said Musheer. “That’s the base of my game and to an extent, Sarfaraz bhai’s game as well. Sunil Gavaskar sir had told my father once that it is important to enjoy and read the game from the non-striker’s end, so I focus on that. Staying at non-striker’s end also allows a batter to read the pitch and bowler’s plan a bit better. So, whenever I get a chance, I try to rotate the strike as much as possible.”

Musheer’s tryst with destiny began at the hallowed Azad Maidan, where he honed his skills. After dominating age-group domestic circuit, Musheer had an impressive U-19 World Cup, where he finished as the second-highest run-getter with 360 runs in seven matches. However, finishing as runners-up hurt Musheer.

“Firstly, I got to learn a lot from playing in the U-19 World Cup,” he said. “We had some top coaches with us – VVS Laxman sir, Hrishikesh Kanitkar sir, and others too. Playing in different conditions, facing new bowlers with different skillsets, it was a great learning experience. Though I am a bit disappointed that we couldn’t lift the trophy. If I could have stayed at the crease for a bit longer, then we would have won the match. Unfortunately, the ball stayed low. But what to do? Overall, the experience was great, just a bit sad about not winning the final.”

However, for Musheer, there were no rest days. After completing the Under-19 assignment, he linked up with the Mumbai team for the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals, and the rest is history.

“All the coaches during the Under-19 World Cup, even my father, they always told me to focus on the process and not think about the result,” he said. “We were winning matches in the tournament but never had a gap in our training routines. We used to follow specific routines given by our coaches dedicatedly. It became a habit for a month. Even if you score a century, it is important to be there on time the next morning for your gym, pool or net sessions. That’s what the coaches tried to implement in our games, the discipline. And that’s what my father has always taught us. Whether you score a hundred or a duck, he will wake us up early in the morning and take us to Azad Maidan at 6am. The process and routine can never be compromised.”

The world witnessed the Indian players down on their haunches, almost each one of them in tears, after the defeat in the Under-19 World Cup final against Australia. In such situations, emotional support matters the most. For Musheer, it was no different.

“Sarfaraz bhai texted me just after the final of Under-19 World Cup got over saying, ‘Ab se tera main cricket shuru hone walahai. Jab tuRanji Trophy jayega, tab tera main cricket shuruhoga. Iskeliye mentally prepared rehna. World Cup mein runs banayehaiuska confidence rakhna. Ye samandarhai, ismetairnaseekhnaparega, bohot bade bademagarmachmilengeaage. Don’t be disappointed, I played Under-19 World Cup twice, couldn’t win it even once. Dilchota mat kar. (Your real cricket starts now. When you go to Ranji Trophy, your real test will start. Be mentally prepared for that. You have scored runs in the U-19 World Cup, carry that confidence forward. This is an ocean, you will have to learn to swim in it as you will find plenty of crocodiles there. I played Under-19 World Cup twice, couldn’t win even once. Don’t be disheartended).’

“The bonding between both of us and our abbu is such that we always talk to each other about our cricket. Like Sarfaraz asked me about his batting in the Test series against England. Although he didn’t put a step wrong in the series, but I told him that hopefully we will witness a big century from him in the next series.”

With each match, Musheer’s talent blossomed, his all-round abilities shining through as he showcased his prowess with both bat and ball. His rise continued as he garnered accolades in age-group tournaments, culminating in his selection for Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy team in December 2022. Though his initial stint in the Ranji Trophy was challenging, Musheer rose to the occasion in 2024.He truly came into his own in the knockout stages and captured the imagination of cricketing aficionados nationwide.

An unbeaten double-hundred in the quarterfinal, a vital half-century in the semi-final, and a patient century in the final, crowned with the Player of the Match award, cemented Musheer’s status as a rising star in Indian cricket.

“For both Sarfaraz bhai and myself, the biggest pressure is when our father is sitting behind our nets,” said the 19-year-old Musheer. “We don’t feel the same pressure when we are out there in the match. Since childhood, we have to do everything correctly in terms of our technique, otherwise we would hear our father coming at us straightaway. Some will say that he is very strict with us, but that is just his love and passion for both of us. He still scolds us if we let our guards down during practice or matches. But that is just his sheer love for us.

“There was a bit of nervousness because my first Ranji season was bad. The pitch also had its demons. There was a bit of pressure as it was my first time batting in such a situation. But I backed my game and kept focusing on the next ball. I got my century before the end of day’s play and got my double-ton the next day. I can’t describe how I was feeling after crossing the 200-run mark. It was amazing.”

On the third day of the Ranji Trophy final, Sachin Tendulkar paid a visit to the Wankhede Stadium.Musheer was able to bring up his hundred in front of the ‘God of cricket’. By doing so, he became the youngest batsman from Mumbai to pull off such a feat in a Ranji final, eclipsing Tendulkar, who was 21.

“I was extremely happy that Sachin Tendulkar sir had come to watch our match, and luckily, I got the chance to bat in front of him,” said Musheer. “I was constantly telling myself that Sachin sir is watching me, so play long and score as many runs as possible. I was focusing on my stance, how I was calling for runs, how I was timing the ball. After scoring each run, I was taking a glance at the gallery to check on Sachin sir. He watched me bat live in a Ranji final, what else can I ask for?

“I was delighted that Mumbai could end their wait to lift their 42nd Ranji Trophy title and that too with my contribution in the knockouts and final. I couldn’t have asked for more. I was numb at that time seeing everyone celebrate the final win but now that you have asked me this question, it truly feels like a dream-come-true moment for me.”

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So what is Musheer’snext goal? “The ultimate dream is to play for India but this journey is long, I know,” he said. “My career has just started so I will need to keep performing to impress the national selectors. Playing for India and helping our country win matches remain the dream, and it would be great if both Sarfaraz and I can represent India at the same time. That feeling would be unmatched.”

Behind Musheer and Sarfaraz’s triumphs lies the sacrifices of Naushad. It was hisdedication and tireless efforts on the training groundsthat laid the foundation for their success. Though Sarfaraz’s Test debut was a crowning achievement for the Khan family, Naushad’s journey is far from over.

“It is great that Sarfaraz has played Test cricket,” said Naushad. “Now he knows what the level is at the international stage. I make sure that both of them get the same amount of training. Now that Sarfaraz will have a slightly different training regime considering the demands of international cricket, Musheer will also have the same routine.He has a lot of cricket to play, plenty to learn.

“I don’t have to think much about their runs at the big stage because I feel our practice is tougher than match situations.They will continue to score runs. Sport will give you days where runs or wickets don’t come but it is important for each one to get up and try to be a better cricketer and better human than what they were the last night.”

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