Different countries, different formats, two centuries, one family - Thursday (January 25) was a great day for the Khan household. Naushad Khan and his two sons - Sarfaraz and Musheer - are going to remember this day for a while.
Playing a four-day game for India A, Sarfaraz decimated England Lions by slamming 161 off 160 deliveries in Ahmedabad, while his younger brother Musheer also registered a hundred against Ireland in India’s second match of the 2024 Under-19 World Cup.
There are so many similarities in their batting and almost every shot Musheer played at Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein had a bit of Sarfaraz written over it. The 18-year-old played a ‘perfect ODI knock’ against Ireland, crafting 118 off 106 deliveries. He took his time initially and then went berserk at the end.
This was the type of knock that would make any coach proud and his cricket-fanatic dad would be extremely happy with how his younger son built his innings against Ireland. Musheer ended his innings with a strike rate of 111.32 but the start wasn’t too breezy for the young batter from Mumbai.
Ireland’s Scott MacBeth, Oliver Riley, and John McNally bowled with good control in the powerplay and didn’t allow Indian openers Adarsh Singh and Arshin Kulkarni to score freely. The two went about their business at a strike rate of less than 60 before falling to McNally.
The Boys in Blue were 80/2 in 20 overs and desperately needed a dominating partnership. Musheer found good support from skipper Uday Saharan, who had also put on a 100-plus partnership with Adarsh in the first game against Bangladesh.
Musheer, who could get only three in the opening game, had a traditional approach to this innings. The right-hander scored 26 off his first 40 deliveries before getting 20 off his next 20 balls. Musheer completed his fifty off 66 deliveries and was on 53 off 76 at the end of 37 overs before finally shifting gears.
Musheer smoked 65 runs off the last 30 deliveries he faced, using the depth of the crease to perfection and constantly shuffling across to unsettle the bowlers. He didn’t mind shuffling across all the way to hit the seamers towards the square leg region. At the same time, he was happy to make room and hit spinners towards extra cover.
If you look at the above graphic, Musheer managed to hit a couple of sixes through the on-side on deliveries that were way outside off. There were also shots played through the off-side on deliveries pitched on the middle and leg stump. He eventually ended with nine fours and four maximums.
"Feeling good having scored a century, feeling really nice. Tried to be too aggressive in the last game and ended up throwing my wicket away. So tried to take my time today, assessed the conditions, got set and then went for my shots," said Musheer after being named Player of the Match.
Once India crossed the 300-run mark (301/7), Ireland never had a chance. Naman Tiwari and Saumy Pandey then shared seven wickets between them and bundled out Ireland for 100, giving their team a massive 201-run victory.
Cricket runs in Musheer’s blood
People who don’t closely follow domestic cricket often identify Musheer as Sarfaraz’s younger sibling who plays some cricket in Mumbai. Musheer has already featured in three first-class games for Mumbai and at the pace he is growing, it won’t be too long before he himself becomes a household name.
The passion for cricket in the Khan’s household is so deeply ingrained that all three of them once participated in a Kanga League match for the Young Mohammedan Club against the Young Maharashtra Cricket Club. Their father Naushad is a cricket badger. Aside from ensuring top-notch coaching for his children, he tries to journey to every corner of the country to support them.
“Whatever Bhaiyaa or I have achieved in our career, it is because of Abbu. All his life, he has dedicated to us to grow our career and give us the best coaching. He modeled our batting style and technique in a very similar fashion, but more importantly, he has given us the mental strength,” Musheer told Cricket.com in August last year.
Musheer is not so different than Sarfaraz who loves to score big. Musheer emerged as the second-highest run-scorer in the 2022-23 Vinoo Mankad Trophy, boasting an average of 113.67. In the four innings he batted, he scored less than 50 runs only once. That came on the back of a successful Col. CK Nayudu Trophy season with Mumbai, where he scored a triple-century against Hyderabad.
That’s not it, Musheer also averaged 80.5 and had a strike rate of 176.9 in the Quadrangular Under-19 Series in India. Then came the Asia Cup in which he averaged 50, followed by 94 runs in three innings in the tri-series in South Africa where he was dismissed only once.
All these runs and we haven’t even mentioned the 31 wickets he has picked with his left-arm spin in the aforementioned series/tournaments. He wasn’t needed to bowl against South Africa, but we all know how much the all-rounders are admired in a country like India.
Musheer is “all about the process” and if he keeps moving forward at this pace, it won’t only benefit him but will also benefit the team he is playing for, starting from India in the ongoing Under-19 World Cup.
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