A little over a year ago, Mumbai wonderkid Sarfaraz Khan’s career was in a limbo. The teenager was expelled from the BCCI’s batting academy on grounds of indiscipline.
Consequently, his confidence took a beating and it seemed his prodigious talent would go down the drain.
However, things changed after a well-wisher advised the 15-year-old’s father, Naushad Khan, to take him to Mughda Bavre, a psychologist associated with the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). Bavre has counselled every Mumbai player right from the U-14 to the U-25 level for nearly a decade.
And Sarfaraz’s interaction with the soft-spoken woman would change his very approach to life, not just cricket. A national swimmer in the 1990s, Bavre also won the prestigious Shiv Chhatrapati Award before completing her Masters in counselling psychology from Mumbai University.
In other words, she very well knows the kind of pressure a sportsperson goes through.
More on Bavre and her therapeutic sessions with Sarfaraz, but here’s proof of the effect it has had on the boy.
On Wednesday, Sarfaraz smashed his way to a stroke-filled 101 (66 balls, 17x4, 1x6) as India Under-19 defeated South Africa Under-19 by four wickets and more 10 overs to spare in a quadrangular series match in Visakhapatnam.
Sarfaraz shared a 159-run stand for the fifth wicket with Ricky Bhui (94 not out, 95 balls, 12x4, 3x6) as the hosts chased down 271 with ease. At 93/4, India Under-19 were in a spot of bother, but the boys played counter-attacking cricket for the better part of their stand which lasted 19.5 overs.
“I am glad he is back at his best,” an elated Bavre told dna on Wednesday. “When I first spoke to him in 2012, he had self-confidence issues. But I guess I handled him well,” Bavre added.
So what were the sessions about? “I told him the importance of being level-headed and humble. I cited examples of cricketers who fell by the wayside. But Sarfaraz was sure he didn’t want to go into oblivion. I just helped him get his priorities right,” Bavre said.
After the first session, Sarfaraz wondered why he didn’t meet “Mughda aunty” earlier. “I can’t thank her enough,” father Naushad admitted. “She just changed my son’s attitude to life. No more aaltu-faltu (nonsense) business for him. He’s doubly focused on his game and fitness now.”
Bavre has but one regret. “I want him to focus on his studies. The other boys used to taunt him. I have also told his father to ensure Sarfaraz attends school regularly. What does one do after retirement? You have to be educated.”