From a remote MP village to Mumbai Indians, journey of cricketer Arshad Khan

Arshad with his team. | Picture by arrangement

The left-arm seamer and left-hand batsman, Mohd Arshad Khan has been picked up by Mumbai Indians worth Rs 20 lakh in the mega auction of the 15th season of IPL 2022.

Kashif Kakvi |

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BHOPAL —  Ashfaq Khan (63) and his wife Aliya Khan (56), residents of Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh’s Gopalganj, were glued to the television set watching the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction as the league had put his youngest son Arshad Khan’s name in the auction list of IPL players. With the completion of every auction, the duo eagerly waits to hear the next name which might be of their son’s.

With dim hope, Ashfaq, a retired teacher-turn-farmer, who wants to see his son in the Indian cricket team, left home for the mosque to offer evening Namaz (Magrib), pondering on the future of his son. As he completed the Namaz, his eldest son Zakariya Khan whispered, “Arsad ko Mumbai Indians team ne kharid liya hai. Wo IPL khele ga.” 

Elated with the news, “I thanked Allah and offered namaz of shukrana,” recalled Ashfaq.

The left-arm seamer and left-hand batsman, Mohd Arshad Khan has been picked up by Mumbai Indians worth Rs 20 lakh in the mega auction of the 15th season of IPL 2022 held in Bangalore recently. His consistent performance in the Under-23 VK Naidu tournament organised by BCCI in the year 2020, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in the same year caught the eyeballs of the selectors.  

In the VK Naidu tournament, Arshad took 36 wickets in 10 matches and also scored 400 runs. He shot into the limelight in 2019-20 when he took 5 wickets and scored a century, batting in the tail end. “The match was against Assam and my team had lost 7 wickets for 87 runs. I went in and scored 134 runs. That inning has been the best of my career,” said Arshad. He always punched above his weight, getting selected for under-14 when he was just 11-year-old.

It was an unforgettable moment for Ashfaq, who coached Arshad for almost eight years since he was eight-year-old. “He was born to be a cricketer. I saw a player in him when he performed well during a trial that took place in Chhindwara in 2008.”

With the selection in Mumbai Indians, Arshad became a superstar in his village as well as in the district. When an overwhelmed Ashfaq was rushing home, he was surrounded by the villagers who were rejoicing at Arshad’s selection. “It was like a village fair. Hundreds of people have gathered outside the home, crackers were burnt, drums have begun to beat and everyone is distributing sweets,” said Aliya, mother of Arshad. 

Recalling the contribution of Arshad’s father, his mother Aliya said, “Cricket is an expensive game and there were occasions when his father purchased his cricket kit way more expensive than his month’s salary. Besides, the efforts of his coaches Abdul Kalam, from Seoni and his coaches in Indore — Shantanu Tripathi and Chandrakant Pandit — have polished his talent to become a good cricketer.”

Belonging to a humble background and youngest among the four siblings, Arshad and his family live in Gopalganj village, around 13-km from Seoni town. “Even Seoni didn’t have a proper turf, what to talk of my village when I began playing cricket,” said Arshad speaking over the phone. “I was in Gujarat when I got a phone call that you have been selected for Mumbai Indians. 

“My phone was buzzing non-stop the day I got selected. I don’t even have time to speak with my father. It was the next morning when I spoke to him on a video call. He was blushing and smiling. It was an unforgettable smile which I have been waiting to see for years,” the budding cricketer Arshad giggled. 

Talking about the struggle, Arsad said, “From 2017 to 2019, it was the years of despair. I had multiple injuries and have stopped playing cricket. But then my father encouraged me to restart afresh and boosted my morale. From that day to today, I never looked back.”

“The journey would have been much more difficult if my partner-in-dream; Ashfaq Khan, my father, did not stand beside me like a rock,” said Ashfaq adding that I want to live his dream and will play for the Indian cricket squad.

Madness for cricket has forced Arshad to quit education after matriculation. But, now, he is determined to resume his studies.

Just like Arshad, Kuldeep Sen, a son of saloon shop owner from Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa, was also auctioned in the the15th edition of IPL. Rajasthan Royals took him at a base price of Rs 20 lakh.