Hungry for runs, Sarfaraz Khan makes it a triple

Siddhesh Lad and captain Aditya Tare, meanwhile, missed their centuries by a narrow margin.

Photo: BCCI

He may have been unwell and gone through the day without eating, but that didn't deter Sarfaraz Khan's appetite to score runs as he smashed an unbeaten triple century in Mumbai's Ranji Trophy match against Uttar Pradesh at the Wankhede Stadium.

It was the first triple hundred by a Mumbai batsman since Rohit Sharma in 2009 with the 22-year-old becoming the seventh man from the city to do so. And to think, he may not have even made it to the crease.

"I wasn't going to come out to bat," Sarfaraz Khan said. "I wasn’t well for the last two-three days. But I felt that I was the kind of player who could change the game if I remained in the middle. So, I came out and played for the team."

He did bring about a change in the game. His mammoth knock allowed Mumbai to take a lead after the visitors posted a massive 625/8 in their first innings after they decided to bat first in the Elite Group B match, particularly when the home team were down at 128/4 after losing wickets at regular intervals.

It was here that Sarfaraz Khan joined Siddhesh Lad with the two forging a solid 210-run partnership for the fifth wicket before the latter fell two short of a hundred, his 98 taking 174 balls with 10 fours and a six.

In that period, Sarfaraz Khan brought up his fifty in as many balls and then raised his ton with a boundary after facing 107 deliveries.

After that, he found an able ally in captain Aditya Tare, centurion in the previous Ranji Trophy match, with whom a 179-run stand ensured that the momentum was starting to swing in Mumbai's favour.

While Aditya Tare too fell in the nineties, his brisk 97 laced with 14 fours taking 144 balls, Sarfaraz Khan soldiered on bringing up his 150 in 189 balls and his double century in 277.

"(Sarfaraz) always had talent," skipper Aditya Tare said. "He works really hard on his batting. He is always practising and prepares himself well. He is a cricketer who improves."

Next in was Shams Mulani, also in good nick with the bat, as he stroked an 82-ball 65 with four boundaries and a maximum. Sarfaraz Khan, meanwhile, brought up his 250 with a six in 345 balls with a six, showing no signs of weaknesses despite suffering from cramps at one stage.

He took another 45 balls to raise his triple hundred, also with a six, taking just 388 balls to reach the landmark.

"I didn't think I would be able to go all the way," he said. "When I got to 250, I felt I should declare (retire), but the team backed me a lot."

Mumbai eventually declared after taking a 63-run lead at 688/7 bringing their Round 6 Ranji Trophy match to a draw. Sarfaraz Khan scored 301 of those runs as he left the field unbeaten, taking just 391 balls for his effort at a strike rate of 76.98. He hit 30 fours and 8 sixes during his stay at the crease, in what was only his second first-class hundred in his 14th match.

Up for Mumbai

"I didn't think I would be able to make 250-300," he said. "You won't believe it that since morning, I didn't have breakfast or lunch, and I am still not hungry. I was only hungry for runs and for Mumbai to do well."

Incidentally, Sarfaraz Khan had left Mumbai to join Uttar Pradesh, after which he spent three years off the domestic scene before returning to Mumbai.

"The Azad Maidan isn't too far from here, and it's there where I have spent my life," Sarfaraz Khan said after the game. "I have stayed there more than I have at home, slept many nights there. So, obviously, it feels very good.

"I used to think every day when I would play at the Wankhede Stadium and the crowd would cheer for me when I'd score a double or triple century," said the 22-year-old, who played for Eagle Thane Strikers in the T20 Mumbai league last year.

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