Wasim Jaffer stood firm to help Mumbai secure the first innings lead, taking his team a step closer to a semifinal spot. In an exhibition of absolute concentration that lasted nearly five hours, the Mumbai skipper was a picture of caution while posting 108. Jaffer settled down nicely, negotiating the medium-pacers in the morning before playing handsome shots and was supported admirably by Rohit Sharma.
Pursuing Himachal Pradesh’s 250 wasn’t easy on the slow track. But, Mumbai played sensibly to reach 405 for 6 at stumps on the second day, up by 155, and counting. This should be enough to take them to Chennai for the last-four round, unless they play shabbily to lose outright.
Jaffer began slowly, opening his account in his 30th ball. Boundaries came with sweetly-timed strokes through the open spaces in a century that would rate higher than his 172 against Gujarat and 256 against Hyderabad, both coming on the first day and on flatter tracks.
Vinayak Samant had played the role of a makeshift opener to perfection, seeing off the shine. Ajinkya Rahane threw away his prized wicket in spin’s first over after scoring a breezy 35 and Amol Muzumdar fell cheaply to Malik.
With Mumbai at 141 for three and no big partnership yet, Jaffer found an ally in the responsible Sharma. The duo was attractive when in full flow that there was never a dull moment in their 113-run fourth wicket association.
Jaffer fell top-edging a sweep when tea was approaching but he had seen his side past HP. While Sharma has got into the bad habit of falling close to hundred and for the third time this season he fell close to a century, bowled trying to reverse sweep left-arm Vishal Bhatia.
HP had nowhere to hide with their limited resources. The trio of Malik, Ashok Thakur and off-spinner Sarandeep Singh who collectively took 89 wickets in the Plate League were no match for a Mumbai team on a roll.