Wasim Jaffer (File Photo)
Mumbai: Veteran opener Wasim Jaffer rode his luck to break a series of records as Mumbai took the all-important first innings lead against Saurashtra on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final. Jaffer’s fortune-kissed 132 placed the home team on 287/6 at close of play, 139 ahead of Saurashtra, the game firmly in the 39-time champions’ grasp.
During the course of his knock, the 34-year-old Jaffer displaced Amol Muzumdar as the leading accumulator in Ranji Trophy history and also surpassed 16,000 first class runs. Jaffer’s 32nd century also moved him ahead of Ajay Sharma on the list of batsmen with most hundreds in India’s top domestic competition.
The centurion featured in three partnerships of over fifty and by the time he was out – ironically to a poor leg-before verdict – midway through the last session, Mumbai were in command despite a flurry of dismissals towards close.
Testing first hour
Mumbai resumed on 19/0 and endured a testing opening spell by left-arm fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat, who beat Jaffer several times. The other opener, Kaustubh Pawar, appeared to be dealing in boundaries, having struck five in the 21 to his name, as Mumbai reached a half-century of runs just after the first drinks interval.
Unadkat returned for his second spell and proved just as troublesome as before, almost inducing Jaffer to play on to an incoming delivery. Jaffer opened up when Dharamendrasinh Jadeja’s left-arm spin came on, striking three consecutive boundaries to imbue his budding knock with some momentum.
Siddharth Trivedi’s harmless medium pace brought the first wicket when Pawar (21) lobbed back a return catch off a leading edge. Jaffer was targeting Jadeja, reaching fifty with a six tonked over long-on, but he still looked cagey against the seamers, having survived a dangerously close leg-before appeal against Trivedi going into lunch.
Sachin comes in
Wicket-keeper batsman Aditya Tare, who had scored a century in the semifinal against Services, was promoted up the order, but his struggle at the crease ended just after resumption: a wild slash outside off taken by Aarpit Vasavada at second slip. A loud applause greeted the wicket, for Sachin Tendulkar was due in next.
The great man shouldered arms to the second ball he faced and endured a massive appeal for leg-before. He found the going tough against Unadkat, was repeatedly beaten and required 15 balls to score his first run. Then began the magic: an exquisite off-drive and a flick off his principal left-arm tormentor, followed by a paddle sweep for four against Kamlesh Makvana.
Jaffer had by now gained in confidence. He drove Jadeja on the up to draw level with Amol Muzumdar, before a single made him the highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy history. Boundaries against Trivedi took him into the 90s and Mumbai into first innings lead, as the side raced from 100 to 150 in just 43 balls. Jaffer reached his century with a blazing drive off Jadeja and celebrated with another boundary on the next delivery.
Disaster struck when Tendulkar (22) was run out for the first time in his Ranji Trophy career. The Indian legend struck it wide of point and took off, but failed to make his ground after Jaffer turned down the single. Abhishek Nayar was fluent and looked good to displace Punjab’s Jiwanjot Singh as the season’s highest accumulator, before he was undone by aggression. But that was after Nayar had participated in another 'life' for Jaffer.
A drive to mid-off and the resultant single found Jaffer struggling to reach the danger end. The over-enthusiastic wicket-keeper Sagar Jogiyani, unfortunately, uprooted the stumps before the throw could do its job, handing Jaffer yet another reprieve. Nayar soon danced down the wicket to Makvana and holed out to mid-wicket, leaving his hopes of a calendar high dependent on whether Mumbai bat again.
Jaffer was next, a victim of a poor lbw call against Jadeja. The ball struck in front of leg and appeared to be heading down further. The umpire thought otherwise. The left-arm spinner picked up another in his next over, Ajit Agarkar succumbing to a similar, questionable call when the ball looked like missing leg.
Saurashtra delayed taking the new ball by a few overs, and even its presence failed to gain them more success. A 50-run partnership between Hiken Shah (41*) and Dhawal Kulkarni (18*) to end the day consolidated Mumbai’s position: a lead of 139, four wickets in hand, one hand still firmly on the trophy.
Scoreboard: Day 2
Saurashtra 1st Innings: 148
Mumbai 1st Innings: 287/6 (94.0 Overs)
Wasim Jaffer lbw b Jadeja 132
Kaustubh Pawar c & b Trivedi 21
Aditya Tare (wk) c Vasavada b Sanandiya 3
Sachin Tendulkar run out (Makvana) 22
Abhishek Nayar c Unadkat b Makvana 26
Hiken Naresh Shah not out 41
Ajit Agarkar lbw b Jadeja 2
Dhawal Kulkarni not out 18
Jaidev Unadkat 24-0-49-3; Siddharth Trivedi 19-1-37-4; Saurya Sanandiya 18-1-51-5; Dharmendrasinh Aniruddsinh Jadeja 19-2-96-0; Kamlesh Makvana 14-1-47-1.
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