Mumbai, Feb. 11 -- Wasim Jaffer did not waste much time in doing what he does best - plunder another ton in first-class cricket. At the same time, when the Mumbai opener was cruising to his century, the national selectors were busy picking the squad for the Australia Tests. With the final day's play in the Irani Cup expected to be a formality, the attention was focussed on the selection meeting at the Cricket Centre on Sunday. But crossing the three-figure mark at the Wankhede stadium, in the same complex where the team was being selected, did not get Jaffer a recall into the national side.
The prolific opener's 48th first-class ton (101 not out), which also took him past Gundappa Vishwanath (1001 runs) as the highest run-getter in Irani Cup with 1008 runs, was a major share of Mumbai's 160 for four when the game was called off as a draw.
Rest declared the second innings at 389 for five in the morning.
Having already clinched the match on first innings lead, RoI allowed Ambati Rayudu to complete his 150 before asking Mumbai to bat again.
Wickets tumbled at the other end, but Jaffer continued to bat without any trouble.
The 34-year-old, who had notched up a fluent 80 in the first innings, played proper cricket shots. He seemed to have all the time in the world to pull to the ropes when S Sreesanth banged it short. Picking the gaps with sublime timing has never been an issue for Jaffer, which he did with elan. It was exhilarating to watch when without even completing the follow-through of the bat, Jaffer would just punch the ball off a good length between cover and mid-off to the fence.
It was in the second session that the selectors had charted out their team for the first two Tests. Jaffer, after having scored 835 runs at an average of 75.90 in the Ranji Trophy, had been overlooked. Shikhar Dhawan with 461 runs had been selected.
When the players walked out after the tea break, Jaffer still managed to smile, and with greater determination stretched his score from 74 to past 100 in the forty-five minutes of play that remained. He almost missed his century in his race against time.
But luckily for him, Rest captain Harbhajan Singh sneaked in a couple of extra overs in a bid to make up for the slow overrate from the first innings. That was enough for Jaffer, who flicked Rayudu to square leg to raise his hundred. The few thousands at the ground gave the batting workhorse a standing ovation. Jaffer's India future may be uncertain, but Mumbai skipper Abhishek Nayar remained optimistic. "He is one of India's great batsmen. Hopefully, he will have his time."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.