Former India great and Rajasthan Royals (RR) mentor Rahul Dravid has opined that it is definitely premature to compare 17-year-old Sarfaraz Khan to Sachin Tendulkar.
Further emphasizing a word of caution that the splendid batting talent from Mumbai still has a lot of hard work to do to reach the top level, he stressed Sarfaraz has caught the eye of cricket lovers around the world after playing an audacious knock of 45 from just 21 deliveries for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) against Rajasthan on Wednesday.
Sarfaraz, who got the lime light for the Indian team in the Under-19 World Cup last year when he hit a then-record score of 439 in an inter-school match of the Harris Shield. Just 12 years old back then in 2009, there have been lofty expectations from Sarfaraz ever since then.
While Dravid admitted that Sarfaraz is a batsman of rare ability, he has cautioned against burdening the youngster with too many expectations.
He said, “He has obviously got talent. There is no doubt that he is a young exciting kid. People have known about his talent for a long time now. It is not like an overnight sensation. It is very unfair to start comparing him with Sachin. It is really unfair on him as well. He needs to be given time to grow and mature at his own pace. It is a long way to go. He has had a great day. He has got to churn out runs for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy. He has got talent, no doubt about that. Whether that translates into success at international level, we will all see.”
Dravid also opined that the likes of Sarfaraz could take a leaf out of Virat Kohli’s book as the star batsman, although gifted, wasn’t anywhere near the finished article in his early days but constantly strived to make improvements in his game, for which he has been reaping the rewards now.
Dravid said, “I saw a young Virat Kohli at 19. I first saw him at Royal Challengers Bangalore after he captained India in U-19. I saw a guy with great talent but did not have a great first IPL (165 runs in 12 innings @ 15.00 with 38 highest).”
He added, “One of the great things about Virat was that you saw a player with ability. Next time I saw Virat a year later, he was a very good player. The next time I saw Virat another year later, he was even better. The weaknesses in his game when I first saw him, he had addressed them two years later. I don’t think anyone is going to be a complete player at 17, 18, 19 years. How you address the challenges that come your way will determine success and that is what Virat has been able to do, constantly improve and answer questions that have been thrown at him at various stages of his career. He was asked questions in England about his ability outside the off-stump, against seaming, moving deliveries. Six months later, he answered it (in Australia).”
He concluded, “That is the thing. There are a lot of guys with talent and Sarfaraz is just one of them. There is Deepak (Hooda), so many other guys I can name in this competition that have a lot of talent and will have success. But the longevity will depend on how they keep improving and keep getting better.”