Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed shines brilliantly as the series hero in his comeback season after playing on the Test field after four years.
If waiting for the first opportunity for years is painful, then slipping away from the grip of the opportunity is almost as painful as the swing of life.
Such was the agony that occupied Pakistan’s Sarfraz for years. He is the one who supported the team in the middle order, besides being the one who rescued the team from many difficult situations as a player and captain, he has full love and respect in the hearts of not only his teammates but also the fans of Pakistan as he is the one who put the Champions Trophy in the hands of the team in 2017.
While everything was going well, the scene changed after 2018. The captaincy was lost and even the chances of featuring in the playing eleven began to dwindle. Especially Rizwan was promoted to his place. ‘Don’t be a wicket-keeper or let him continue as a batsman’, none of the comments reached the board’s ears and vanished into thin air. At one point he was completely sidelined. Sarfraz’s last match for Pakistan in the white jersey was his half-century against South Africa in January 2019. He was permanently benched. Apart from this, there was a lot of cover-up going on, with Babar Azam preferring Rizwan in the team over Sarfraz.
The world of Pakistan cricket, which has always been shrouded in darkness and confusion, has been apathetic about Sarfraz for the past 4 years. Even though he proved his mettle in the leagues and domestic arena, the board was not ready to even look back at him. Even so, he did not disappear anywhere. He will be selected for the team in each series. He waits with longing and anguish that he will not find the field. Without thinking about the previous situation, he would do all the tasks from fetching water to his teammates without bending his face. However, standing between him and his reentry was Rizwan and his superb performance.
Everyone was beginning to think that Sarfraz’s cricket career was almost over. In fact, he is an all-time favorite for many Pakistani fans, and his treatment hurt many. They had expressed that concern many times before on social media. But only Sarfraz never spoke a word about it in these four years.
His faith never wavered. The struggle did not rest and did not rest. He waited for his day to come.
The entire board ganged up against him, and even some of his colleagues tacitly supported it. But Sarfraz didn’t boast that I will give a comeback, didn’t lash out at anyone, didn’t justify himself in front of the media, didn’t cry and wail. Hours of training, tons of runs at the domestic, a silent struggle like roots hitting the soil. He just kept doing it.
Ramis Raja had said last June that there was “no chance of Sarfraz returning to the playing XI”. Arudham said Sarfraz’s cricketing chances were over with Harris’ entry. Even then the question about it was met with silence from Sarfraz. No matter what corner of the world one’s talent is hidden away, when time and circumstances come together, it will explode beyond control. Until then, all one has to do is feed it and save it. Sarfraz was doing exactly that. Valenda was patiently sitting on the bench and holding the grinder to his hood.
Scenes changed when Afridi came to the Selection Committee after Ramis. Rizwan’s performance in the Tests was a bit sloppy and Sarfraz was dropped for the series against New Zealand, citing a reduction in his workload. This is his first Test series in Pakistan soil. And that too in his hometown Karachi! Sarfraz impressed with two back-to-back fifties in the first match. There is no stagnation anywhere in the middle order player’s game. The whole argument of being out of touch was never seen.
The second Test was the stage where he unleashed his pent-up talent. Pakistan fell four wickets for 77 in the second innings, needing 241 runs to avoid defeat and draw the match. For someone who had fought for his chance for years, the chance to fight for the team was still valued.
New Zealand’s fearsome bowling line-up didn’t let them down at the other end with no wickets falling. Sarfraz too could see the same desire and passion as Suryakumar has become unshakable when he waits for the opportunity and gets it.
Sarfraz not only rescued the team from a bad defeat with 63 overs but also reached his century after eight years as his personal achievement.
The way he celebrated when he reached his century was very emotional. He punched the ground four times with uncontrollable rage. Sarfraz said after the match that it was symbolic of those four missed years. That’s right! How else can words describe the pain of waiting?
Not only is he the first wicketkeeper to score a half-century in all four innings of a single series, he is also the third-highest run-scorer in a two-Test series (335 runs). He was full of self-satisfaction even in the post-match interview, he was not arrogant or sloppy.
Surbras’s comeback has been staged brilliantly after overcoming the loss of the captaincy, the inability to continue in the playing league, the environment that raises self-doubt, and the opponents who think of defeating them. After digging a hole and burying it, it grows like a tree.
His long-desired honors board also bears his name in gold letters as a symbol of his perseverance and self-confidence.