Sarfaraz Khan leaves Mumbai for Uttar Pradesh
Mumbai batsman Sarfaraz Khan, who impressed in IPL 2015 for Royal Challengers Bangalore, has switched to Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2015-16 domestic season. Naushad Khan, Sarfaraz's father hails from Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh and had approached Rajiv Shukla, the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association secretary, for the transfer.
"I spoke with Rajiv Shukla [UPCA secretary] about the desire to return to my roots and he welcomed Sarfaraz back with open hands," Naushad said. "Obviously Shuklaji has clarified that Sarfaraz will have to perform in the selection trials first but he is no stranger to proving himself time and again."
Mumbai Cricket Association joint secretary Dr PV Shetty said he "tried to convince them to stay back in Mumbai", but decided to give the requisite no-objection certificate once he realised that "Naushad and Sarfaraz had made up their mind".
The Mumbai cricket fraternity is not very surprised at Sarfaraz's decision. Last year, in an Under-19 knockout match, Sarfaraz had made an obscene gesture from the middle to the selectors. It had resulted in his omission from the list of probables for the zonal Twenty20 league. Though he was drafted into the squad after offering an apology, the association had withheld his match fees for the 2014-15 season.
Naushad, however, stressed that the disciplinary issue has nothing to do with Sarfaraz's decision to leave Mumbai. "We are extremely thankful to all the opportunities Sarfaraz has been presented with by the Mumbai Cricket Association. The association has time and again stood by him and that has played a key role in Sarfaraz's moulding into a good cricketer," Naushad said.
Sarfaraz, who has created a plethora of records in school cricket, made his Twenty20 and one-day debut for Mumbai in 2013-14 after good performances in the Under-19 World Cup in February 2014, where he was the third-highest run-getter for India Under-19s. The youngster was presented with his maiden Ranji cap last season but was dropped after scoring 95 runs from three games. In his maiden IPL season with Royal Challengers, Sarfaraz scored 111 runs in 13 matches at an average of 27.75.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo