Father Naushad Khan flanked by Sarfaraz (left) and Musheer. © Cricbuzz
Filial Ingratitude is a famous theme for creative and literary minds but Naushad Khan, no less creative in his approach to training his children in cricket, would pooh-pooh such a thought. "I am the happiest father in the world," declared Naushad at the BKC ground in Mumbai on Tuesday. "My sons have given me the happiest day in my life."
Why not he would be the happiest man around anyway? In the Mumbai team, where getting a place is a hard task for a cricketer, he has had both his sons playing in the same game. "Dreams do come true," Naushad is unstoppable, seeing sons Sarfaraz Khan and Musheer Khan turn up for Mumbai against Saurashtra in a third-round game of the Ranji Trophy.
Sarfaraz (25) is a Mumbai veteran, having already played 33 Ranji games but Musheer, considered a precocious talent in Mumbai cricket circle, followed his brother's footsteps and earned the Mumbai cap on Tuesday. Incidentally, the coveted cap was handed over to him by his elder sibling.
"Why Ranji Trophy? A place in an age group Mumbai team is difficult for a cricketer. Today, two of my sons are playing in the same Ranji game. Our home is just a kilometre away from here. It is virtually our home ground. I could not have hoped for more," gushed Naushad. "Their mother keeps calling me asking about the scores. We are all thrilled."
While Sarfaraz was establishing himself in first-class cricket, Musheer, who will turn 18 in a couple of months, has been dominating the national and state age-group matches. This year he is the highest scorer for Mumbai in the Under 25 matches. Recently, the two had won the man-of-match awards for Mumbai - Sarfaraz for the seniors and Musheer in an Under 25 game.
The father has been standing strongly behind the two sons - providing them constant practice, throwdowns in various conditions since their childhood. He even has a floodlit turf in his backyard where the sons get throwdowns in all possible conditions - in cloudy, misty and dry weather. He would swing the ball from a shortened distance and relentlessly make them work hard. Often Musheer, a quality left-arm spinner and right-handed batsman, would bowl to his elder brother. Cricket practice is a family affair for these Khans.
The two sons play for the Payyade Club in the A division and there were occasions when all three - Sarfaraz, Musheer and Naushad -- have played for a side in the Kanga League games, representing Young Mohammedan Club in B Division. Sarfaraz had won the best batsman award for the season recently while Naushad walked away with the best bowler honours. Interestingly enough, Musheer is the best bowler in the family and it is said that he had once clean bowled Yuvraj Singh in his prime. Against Saurashtra on Tuesday, he bowled five overs without a wicket.
"Musheer has been performing consistently in the age group games and he was part of the squad in last year's Ranji final (which Mumbai lost to MP). It was about time he got his chance and I am happy he has finally," said Mumbai chief selector Salil Ankola. "We selectors don't interfere in the selection of the XI but I think the captain (Ajinkya Rahane) and coach (Amol Muzumdar) decided to take him seeing the track which has turn and bounce. I hope he will grab the opportunity and is here to stay," the former India pacer added.
Brothers in a Ranji game are not new - the Gangulys of Bengal, Kaifs of Uttar Pradesh, Pandyas and Pathans of Baroda, Babas of Tamil Nadu are there, to name a few. Some of them have gone on to play for the country too. Is Naushad looking for such a day? "I am not looking way too ahead. If you aspire too much, we could end up with disappointment. I just want to provide them the best platform to excel," said the proud father.
With Mumbai 36 for two after bowling out Saurashtra for 289 on what appears to be spinner-friendly wicket, there may be a chance the two brothers would be in the middle at some stage on Wednesday. You bet the Khan family will be at the BKC to cheer for the brothers.