U-19 World Cup final: For Musheer Khan, trophy for India is what counts most

Topscorer in the event till the semis, the youngster always had brother Sarfaraz Khan as an inspiration

Musheer Khan (photo: ICC)
Musheer Khan (photo: ICC)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Come Sunday, it will be a replay of the match-up of last 50-overs ICC World Cup final when defending champions India take on Australia in the title contest of the Under-19 World Cup at Benoni in South Africa.

It will be the fifth straight final appearance for the Boys in Blue, who fought a major scare in the semi-final against the hosts while the Aussies just kept their nose ahead of Pakistan to prevail in the second semi-final by one wicket on Thursday. The final again will be anybody’s game where India will rely a lot on the trio of captain Uday Saharan, Musheer Khan and Sachin Dash – who are occupying the top three rungetters’ slots, respectively, in the tournament.

Musheer, the younger brother of Indian international Sarfaraz Khan, had been leading the table with 338 runs from six games – before Uday forged ahead with a match winning 81 not out in the semis. However, it’s not about being the personal landmark but the champions’ medal that Musheer is looking forward to.   

 “I am happy with my performances but I won't be satisfied until we win the World Cup,” said Mumbai lad Musheer, whose brother Sarfaraz had first announced his arrival in 2014 and 2016 U-19 World Cups. “As far as being the highest rungetter, I don't really want to think about it at this point,’’ Musheer told the ICC media team. 

 “It would give us great happiness to bring the World Cup to India. But we know that it won’t come easily, and that we still have to work very hard to get our hands on the title,” the youngster said.

 The journey of Sarfaraz, who finally managed to get a nod in the Test team in the ongoing series against England after being ignored repeatedly despite prolific domestic seasons, is expected to offer a key lesson to Musheer – never give up.

 “The first thing he told me was that there is no bigger pride than playing for India,” Musheer said about his brother’s influence. “He told me to enjoy myself on the field and whenever I get a chance – be it with the bat or ball – you have to pull the team up in any situation and win the game.

“He told me to play with all my heart because you are representing the country. I have learnt a lot from Sarfaraz – right from how he bats to how he is always thinking about winning the game for his team, to how he builds his innings.  Even as he was knocking on the doors of the Indian team, his focus was always on scoring runs and on the process without worrying about the result. My focus too is on the process.”

 However, Musheer’s biggest source of inspiration – like almost every other cricketer hailing from Mumbai – is Sachin Tendulkar.That was evident during a standout moment against New Zealand when Musheer executed an upper-cut, prompting commentators to draw a reference to the Little Master's influence.

 Reflecting on his journey which began at a tender age under the watchful eyes of his father, Musheer said: “When I was younger, about 5-6 years old, my father would take me to the ground to play cricket,” he says. “Watching my brother play, I slowly started playing cricket. There have been so many challenges in my journey so far. Right from childhood, there’s a very high level of competition, right from U14, U16 and now at U19." 

Musheer credits his father for helping him navigate through the tricky patches. ‘’My father always told me to keep working hard,” he says. “The challenges never stop, and you have to accept that as you keep moving ahead.”

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