Indian cricket sensation Sarfaraz Khan has revealed that he wept after being excluded from the first two Test matches against Australia, despite having a first-class batting average that is second only to Sir Donald Bradman. The 25-year-old has been one of the most consistent performers in the local Ranji Trophy competition this season, scoring 431 runs in five games for Mumbai. Last summer, Sarfaraz amassed 982 runs in six games at an average of 122.75, including four centuries. In 36 first-class games so far, the middle-order batsman has accumulated 3,380 runs at an average of 80.47, only Bradman (95.14) boasts a higher first-class average among batsmen who have played at least 50 innings.
"When the team was announced and my name wasn’t there, I was sad the whole day, when we travelled from Guwahati to Delhi, I was feeling very lonely. I cried too," Sarfaraz was quoted as saying by the Times of India. He then called his father, who is also a coach, for help during this low phase. "I called my dad to Delhi. He spoke to me, I practised with him, and then felt better," Sarfaraz said.
Indian selectors announced a 17-member squad on Friday for the first two Tests of the four-match series against Australia at home beginning on February 9. Explosive batsman Suryakumar Yadav won a maiden Test call-up, while Ishan Kishan, another white-ball specialist, was also named in the side with first-choice wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant recovering after a car accident. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah was left out over fitness concerns.
Sarfaraz said he understands that the selectors may have certain plans in mind when they picked the team for the first two Tests. However, he also dismissed suggestions that he was left out because of his bulky frame and fitness issues. "I am very fit. Everyone has a different body structure, you can’t change it. I’ve cleared all the yo-yo tests (mandatory fitness test) in the past."
Veteran cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle said the Test exclusion must be tough on Sarfaraz. "Very hard on Sarfaraz Khan who has literally broken the door down in first-class cricket. You can’t do more than he has," he said on Twitter. Former India cricketer Dodda Ganesh also tweeted in support of Sarfaraz. "Spare a thought for Sarfaraz Khan. I don’t understand what else he needs to do to get into the Test team," he wrote.