'Cricket is a game where if you come back after a gap, then it is not easy to perform immediately.'
He was in the middle of a dream season before the lockdown brought life to a standstill for Mumbai's batting sensation Sarfaraz Khan.
A couple of days before the lockdown came into effect on March 25, Sarfaraz was driven by his father Naushad to their ancestral village in Chatarpur village, near Azamgarh, in Uttar Pradesh, where they are now based currently.
"I had gone to Bhopal to play a tournament as part of the D Y Patil team. My father called and told me that mummy had gone to our ancestral village. My father came to Bhopal and we drove to Chhatarpur. Coronavirus had just started to spread, so my father said flights won't be safe and that is why we decided to travel by car along with my younger brother Musheer," Sarfaraz tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com.
"The IPL was postponed because of the lockdown, the Irani Cup was also postponed, so I thought I would stay in the village for a few days and then go back to Mumbai, but when we reached here things changed quickly," the batsman adds.
Having a father, who doubles up as his coach, has proved beneficial for Sarfaraz during the lockdown.
Naushad has ensured that Sarfaraz doesn't lose touch with his game and has devised unique methods to enable him to practice his batting on the terrace of their village home.
You can practice cricket on a open terrace. All you need is a couple of blankets and a rope, says Naushad.
Sarfaraz gets a good workout as Naushad gives him throwdowns to practice his drives and the pull shots with a soft ball. He also undergoes a strenuous fielding session using the terrace wall.
"I am practicing my batting daily," says Sarfaraz. "I work on my fitness doing drills on the stairs. It is very hot during the day in UP so we rest in the afternoon, then start practicing again in the evening."
"People who have small houses can practice their batting indoors as you can see in the video. People can also play their shots inside their houses using blankets," he adds.
"Cricket is a game where if you come back after a gap, then it is not easy to perform immediately," the young cricketer explains.
"You need to practice your game for years to reach a certain level. Even if you take a few days off, then it becomes difficult to start off immediately."
Sarfaraz, who was keen to continue his good run in the now indefinitely suspended IPL, has learnt to take setbacks in his stride.
"Obviously, when you are in form you want to keep playing and scoring runs at every opportunity, but, as you said, things are not in my control. I just have to be patient," he says.
"I was looking to playing in the IPL, but if you look at the positive side I have got time to work on other aspects of my game like my fitness," he adds.
"During a normal season, there is hardly any time because you are continuously playing different formats in domestic cricket and then you also have the IPL."
"During this lockdown, I will get another month or two to work on my game. My father is also my coach, so we can work on my batting technique and other things," he says.
Naushad says he is keeping Sarfaraz in the 'zone' mentally by showing him videos of his innings.
"We are showing him some of the good innings he has played in the past, like in the Ranji Trophy last season or some other innings like in the IPL," says the father.
Naushad advised Sarfaraz to treat the lockdown like an injury lay-off and is confident that Sarfaraz will make another smashing comeback whenever cricket resumes in the future.
"I tell him that when he was injured he could not hold a bat for nearly six months, but after that he made a good comeback. But here, you can train at home. As the saying goes 'Form is temporary, class is permanent', so if you have the class and you are physically fit, then you don't take time to get back your rhythm," Naushad points out.
"We should play our part staying home to break the chain and stop the spread," says Sarfaraz. "I am just hoping this goes away soon and I can get back on the field and play cricket."