Early this year, Mumbai batsman Sarfaraz Khan had requested the team manager to give him an extra cap which he will keep with him and present it to his younger brother Musheer, whenever he makes his Ranji Trophy debut.
The day finally arrived on Tuesday, when elder brother Sarfaraz gave the Mumbai cap kept in his bag to his 17-year-old younger brother Musheer made his Ranji debut against Saurashtra at the MCA-BKC ground. With Musheer’s entry, after a long time the Mumbai dressing room is witnessing a set of brothers in the same team.
Musheer has been knocking on Mumbai’s senior team door for the past two years and the word floating around is, he is better than his elder brother Sarfaraz. If everything goes right, he might lead the India Under-19 side in the coming days ahead of the World Cup next year.
Musheer was picked in the Mumbai Ranji squad last season too but didn’t get an opportunity to play. The senior selection committee decided to retain his place this season too and Musheer got the chance to don the Mumbai cap after off-spinner Tanush Kotian injured his finger on the morning of the match.
An elated Musheer, later in the day, recalled how he felt while receiving the cap. “I waited for this for a long time and never thought that the day would arrive soon. All my life I have gone listening to my father and brother about the Ranji Trophy. When I received the cap, I was just speechless,” Musheer said.
Ever since he turned 15, the teenager has been scoring consistently in Mumbai’s local cricket. Playing in A Division, he had scored centuries and last month, in the BCCI Under-25 tournament, scored 172 off 133 deliveries against Jammu & Kashmir.
With Musheer riding high on confidence, the selectors picked him again in the Ranji Trophy squad. Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) senior selection committee chairman Salil Ankola said Musheer’s performance on a consistent basis has been impressive.
“He was part of the squad during the last Ranji Trophy season as well. He has been performing consistently and we felt it was time we try him in a bigger league. The wicket favours his style of play, he is a street smart cricketer and we can see that Mumbai’s khadoos thing in him. He won’t give his wicket away and more than that he is a fantabulous fielder and a team man. He will be there, I feel he has a great future ahead of him,” Ankola said.
The youngster was nervous like any cricketer playing his first big game. While Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar advised Musheer to enjoy the moment and not let the nerves affect him, captain Ajinkya Rahane and Suryakumar Yadav told him to keep it simple when he came on to bowl. Apart from being an opener, Musheer also bowls left-arm spin. He bowled five overs on Day 1 without any success.
Saurashtra captain Arpit Vasavada patiently constructed 75 on a turning track enabling his side post 289 against Mumbai on Day One of the Ranji Trophy game. The left-handed batsman got the support of veteran batsman Sheldon Jackon as they added 54 runs for the fourth wicket after Saurashtra were 73 for 3 at one stage. Post lunch, Mumbai bowlers picked up wickets at regular intervals. However, all-rounder Prerak Mankad (27), Parth Bhut (25) and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (24) ensured Saurashtra didn’t bundle out cheaply and ensured they had a decent total to bowl at. Left-arm spinner Shams Mulani continued his good form at home and finished with four-wicket haul.
In reply, openers Prithvi Shaw and Yashasvi Jaiswal departed early to leave Mumbai in a spot of bother at 6/2. However, Rahane and Yadav ensured Mumbai didn’t lose any more wickets as they ended the day at 36/2.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 289 all out (A Vasavada 75, Sheldon Jackson 47; S Mulani 4-109) vs Mumbai 36/2.