What’s so special in Sarfraz?
It was the year 2014 when Pakistan toured Sri Lanka for a test match series that consisted of two matches. The conditions were so adverse for the Pakistan batsmen that the top clout of the batting could not make any significant impact. Batsmen such as Younis, Misbah, Hafeez and Khurram struggled a lot. The conditions were just too tough for the batmsen as the Sri Lankan bowlers were making pristine use of the favourable home conditions.
But then a person rose to the occasion and fame, who made his impact in the most adverse of the conditions. He was none other than the underrated and little cared for Sarfraz Ahmad. Two matches meant that each of the batsmen had a maximum of 4 innings to play. And his 4 innings, the scores of Sarfraz were: 55, 52, 103 and 55; 265 runs in 4 innings – 3 fifties and a blistering hundred in unbearable circumstances at an astonishing average of 66.25. Pakistan were clean swept by the Lankans but the only silver lining was the one and only Sarfraz Ahmad.
Then came the CWC 2015. As a consequence of an utterly flawed policy, Sarfraz was benched for some initial games and a makeshift resource was made to wear the gloves. The policy was destined to fail and it happened. The makeshift keeper dropped Kohli in the game against India and made several lapses in the game against the Windies. Pakistan lost both the games by huge margins.
A sane advice then floated in the camp and Sarfraz was then brought back to the team. Opening the innings against the Proteas, an attack that included the likes of Steyn, Morkel, Abbott and Imran Tahir, Sarfraz played a run-a-ball 49 and took a-record 6 six catches while keeping the stumps. He went on to score 101* against the Irish men in the game to follow, that happened to be the only 100 by a Pakistan batsman in the tournament.
Then came PSL 1, where he was given the job to lead the under-dog Quetta Gladiators. It was a team that was the most underrated one – it lacked big names – it was in dearth of advertisement campaign and sponsor support. But, it had two positives that no other team in the tournament had; an absolutely fantastic mentor in the form of the exuberant Sir Viv Richards, and a truly dynamic captain in the shape of Sarfraz Ahmad.
Sarfraz led his team brilliantly. He gave them the spirit and belligerence that was missing in all the other teams in the League. From chasing 200 against the Lahore Qalandars to defeating Peshawar Zalmi in the ecstatic 1st playoff of the League by one run, Quetta Gladiators made an impeccable impact on the League and gave the League the flavour it needed to flourish.