Musheer Khan is three weeks shy of turning 19. It's an age where teenagers are excited to escape from their parents' clutches and leap into the unknown. Musheer is slightly different, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Abbu (father) charts Musheer's plans on a weekly basis. Their life revolves around the maidaans, with Naushad Khan instructing net bowlers and throwdown specialists to target his weakness. Practice sessions are relentless.
If it's raining, the 18-yard turf besides their residence in Mumbai's Taximan Colony is the training ground for practice against the short ball with wet tennis balls. If there's sunshine, one of the several maidaans in Mumbai, or at their home town of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, is where they are at.
All this, of course, is when Musheer, and older brother Sarfaraz Khan, are meant to have some downtime, away from the plethora of cricket they play at various levels. At the Khan household, downtime means rest between training sessions.
The sons are as busy as they've ever been, and Naushad currently has some time at hand. Musheer, the youngest, is currently at the Under-19 World Cup, traversing the same journey his oldest son Sarfaraz did over a decade ago. At the 2014 edition in Dubai, Musheer, all of nine at the time, watched Sarfaraz from the stands. Today, he's a key allrounder in the Uday Saharan-led team that has entered the Super Six stage on the back of three convincing wins.
In three outings, Musheer has picked up two wickets with his thrifty left-arm orthodox. Both those scalps came against Bangladesh at a crucial juncture in the chase. His economy of 2.85 has largely been down to batters unwilling to rake risks against him and fellow left-arm spinner Saumy Pandey. With the bat, at No. 3, Musheer has knocks of 3, 118 and 73 in his three outings.
Industrious is a decent place to begin. He can accumulate runs quietly. And then suddenly he'll grab your attention with some audacious sweeps and scoops, like older brother Sarfaraz. He's got a stable base, and also tackles the short ball well. Coaches vouch for his backfoot game. Recently, the ICC put out a video package with Sarfaraz and Musheer on a split-screen. The similarities between the two are eerie.
Musheer is away from the media glare at large in South Africa. When he wasn't, in the summer of 2022, he chatted with ESPNcricinfo during the knockout stages of the Ranji Trophy in Bengaluru. He'd just broken into Mumbai's Ranji squad, on the back of a sensational run at the Under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy. He led Mumbai to the final, where he was named Player of the Tournament for his 632 runs and 32 wickets.
Musheer was 17, and still very boyish, without a thin beard he sports today. His squeaky voice was a throwback to his pre-teen days. He was only in the mix as a reserve, but there was an enormous sense of maturity that stemmed from having grown up playing with Sarfaraz and training with Abbu. He didn't carry a cellphone back then, because Abbu didn't want him to be distracted.
The team manager or Sarfaraz would relay any important information or details such as flight/hotel bookings. A pouch of cash - only what is necessary - stashed away in one corner of his kit bag for regular spending. These were Abbu's way of ensuring his youngest son was solely focused on cricket.
The brother seemed to share a great bond. Sarfaraz was the protective older brother, Musheer happily tagging along with big brother. They were ready to play table tennis when this correspondent bumped into them. There weren't too many videos of Musheer the batter, so it's obvious Sarfaraz would be the go-to person for any info on his younger sibling.
Musheer Khan made headlines when scored a century for India in thi tournament and he is currently in the top-3 list of best batters of the 2024 Under 19 World Cup. He has 194 runs in three matches with an average of 64.67.
He's a better batter than me, Sarfaraz quipped. I'm not saying this because he's my brother. Sometimes, I may be struggling but watching his technique and trying to work out what he's doing would give me confidence. His mannerisms, bat flow is very good. Sometimes when I'm not batting well, I look at him and learn.
It's natural that Musheer began bowling initially, being the youngest sibling. But Naushad wasn't one to let him focus on only one aspect of his game. Naushad says his experience of training Sarfaraz taught him to ensure his youngest son would be multi-skilled.
If I batted 300 balls, Musheer would bat for 300 balls even if he'd done a lot of bowling, Sarfaraz said. Our middle brother, Moin, would do the throwdowns. Having two cricketers in the house, he decided to switch to training.