Under-16 topper Saif makes his mark

When his name was announced as the best Under-16 cricketer at the annual Indian cricket board's awards ceremony Mohammad Saif had finished playing an Under-19 Inter-Zonal match in Chennai. Saif had skipped the awards ceremony and instead opted to play in the tournament and though he wanted to score a century he made only 81.

"I wish I had made a century but I missed out," Saif said. Last season Saif didn't let too many chances go abegging.

The left-handed batsman hit four tons alongside two half centuries to compile 747 runs from six matches.

However Saif says he isn't too bothered about numbers.

"I am happy with my last season's performances but I believe that I need to consistently aim high. I never checked statistics. It was just the thought of excelling that pushed me to play," he says.

Saif's father after watching him bat for the first time, has been very supportive of his son's cricketing ambitions.

Although M Khurshid Raza had played the game at the club level himself, he wasn't keen on his son taking to the sport. "He used to tell me that there is very little chance of reaching the top in this game and my studies could get affected. But the day he saw me bat for the first time, he started supporting me whole-heartedly. He purchased a plot of land for me to train at in Varanasi and used to purchase expensive bats for me," Saif says.

At the age of 10 Saif was a regular at the Sigra Stadium, Varanasi where he was coached by Amal Chaturvedi. Three year's later he was selected through trials to the Sports College, Lucknow, where he was further groomed by Deepak Sharma. Sharma, whose list of former trainees include Suresh Raina and RP Singh, is full of praise for the youngster.

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