U-19 World Cup: Musheer Khan looks to emulate brother Sarfaraz Khan | Crickit
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U-19 World Cup: Musheer Khan looks to emulate brother Sarfaraz Khan

By, Mumbai
Jan 17, 2024 08:11 PM IST

Sarfaraz led the batting for 2016 runners-up India; all-rounder Musheer is ready for the South Africa edition starting on Friday.

After playing in the Under-19 Asia Cup in Dubai, Musheer Khan had a couple of days off on return to Mumbai in mid-December before the camp for the U-19 World Cup started at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. There was non-stop cricket to follow, including a tri-series and warm-up games, heading into the tournament in South Africa.

Mumbai player Sarfaraz Khan celebrates his century on the first day of the Ranji Trophy cricket match against Delhi(PTI) PREMIUM
Mumbai player Sarfaraz Khan celebrates his century on the first day of the Ranji Trophy cricket match against Delhi(PTI)

Instead of taking a break, Musheer chose to play a two-day game in the Police Shield tournament that was on in Mumbai. The shopping and packing was left for the day before he left for Bengaluru.

It was only in keeping with the relentless schedule cricket coach Naushad Khan’s cricketer sons follow. For older brother Sarfaraz Khan, 26, and Musheer, eight years younger, practice and more practice is the mantra.

Sarfaraz was part of the India's U-19 World Cup squad for the 2014 edition in the UAE as well as the tournament two years later in Bangladesh, where he was the second highest run-scorer in India's runners-up finish.

Musheer is set to follow in the footsteps of his brother at the tournament which starts on Friday. India, the defending champions after winning the 2022 edition in the West Indies, take on Bangladesh in their opening game on Saturday.

While Sarfaraz the middle-order batter knocks on the senior India team’s door, his younger sibling is an all-rounder -- a top-order batter and left-arm orthodox spinner. Musheer has warmed up nicely for the junior World Cup with an innings of 41 and a fifer in the Tri-Nation U-19s tournament against South Africa this month.

“To play for India, you feel very proud; there's a lot of excitement... we want to win and come back," says Musheer, who stands taller than his brother.

“The main thing is we prepare a lot; we don’t keep gaps and try to be in touch as much as possible. We train morning and evening and continuously play matches," he says.

“I had two-three days break before joining the team but played a Police Shield match so that I maintain rhythm and match temperament,” adds the Mumbai all-rounder, who made his first-class debut last season in the Ranji Trophy tie against Saurashtra.

An opening batter for Mumbai, the India team uses him as a floater. "I try to bat as per the situation," Musheer says. For the tough batting conditions in South Africa, preparation has been thorough. “I have batted on astroturf; for swing and bounce, we wet it and bat. Whatever possible, we have worked on it.”

He has got a lot of runs in local cricket and for Mumbai in age-group tournaments. That includes an innings of 339 in a U-15 CK Nayudu Trophy match against Hyderabad in 2023.

There has been lot of emphasis on his bowling preparation too. “I go with my father and bowl at different places, we train wherever we get a chance."

For his father, Musheer’s strength lies in variety. “He has good variations, if the spinners come into play in South Africa, he will be effective,” says Naushad.

One area they have worked on extra hard is his bowling speed. “I have also worked on my technique and action; I have shortened the run-up to increase my pace.”

Elaborating on the work done, the teenager says: “To increase the speed we have worked on body alignment -- try and keep it as straight as possible -- and arm rotation.”

While the India team got a feel of the pitch conditions in South Africa during the tri-series, Musheer has also been talking to Sarfaraz, who was in SA with the India A team last month. “He said it will be important to spend some time on the wicket and that it gets easier to play shots as the ball gets older and stops swinging.”

And how has he gained training with his brother? “I have seen the kind of struggle and hard work my brother has put in to play the higher level of cricket. He has also played U-19 World Cup. The dedication with which he has practiced is a motivation.”

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