Mumbai, Jan. 6 -- It was a lesson on how to how stay in focus at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, and the challenge was different for Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Jaffer - with the former in the twilight of his great career seeking to find his pristine touch and the other battling personal crisis. The bowling was amateurish, the pitch placid and the conditions were familiar. Still the task was cut out for the duo, much more for Jaffer as his father is critically ill and fighting for life.
Electing to bat, Mumbai lost two early wickets, after which the duo constructed a wonderful third-wicket alliance worth 234 that put Mumbai on the ascendancy on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.
At stumps, Jaffer's unbeaten 137 (256b, 14x4, 3x6) and Tendulkar's 108 (233b, 10x4, 1x6) propelled Mumbai to 272 for three.
The focus obviously was on Tendulkar, with him taking the centre stage for the first time since calling time on his One-day career.
A holiday crowd in the region of 500 had come to watch Tendulkar play and the master obliged. He started in a hurry and was ease at driving on the front foot, but once into thirties he allowed Jaffer to dictate. He took his own time in getting to his 18th Ranji and 80th first class hundred. Tendulkar, however, did not survive the day as Vahora got one to nip back and send the off stump crashing.
The incident was the only blemish in an otherwise controlled innings. Sunday's knock would have done a world of good for his confidence. It might even help him regain his lost touch and end his glittering Test career on a high.
When he reached his hundred, a fan charged onto the field and insisted on touching Tendulkar's feet. It embarrassed the master, he had no choice but to oblige.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.