Wasim Jaffer values the importance of scoring hundreds in knock-out matches of the Ranji Trophy. Jaffer followed his 108 against Himachal Pradesh in the quarterfinal with a responsible undefeated 162 on Sunday to take Mumbai to 268 for one on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal.
Mumbai, who strengthened their batting by including Amol Muzumdar, had a score to settle with Saurashtra. Going by the day’s proceedings, Saurashtra are in for a tough time in the coming days, what with master batsman Sachin Tendulkar padded up to bat next. On a pitch where the ball was coming nicely on to the bat Mumbai won an important toss.
Jaffer’s fourth hundred of the season was a measured effort. Finding himself out of the Test team after the home series against South Africa last April, Jaffer’s prolific form sends a strong message to the selectors.
Milestones marked the day with Jaffer reaching 1000 runs in Ranji this season, becoming the 11th batsman in history to reach the mark when he was on 127. Jaffer had followed Ajinkya Rahane, who earlier in the day crossed the landmark when on 24. Only one other Mumbai batsman achieved this distinction, Rusi Modi (1008) in 1944-45.
Jaffer and Vinayak Samant gave Mumbai a perfect start, raising 91. Samant was productive against the spinners, sweeping left-armer Ravindra Jadeja with ease after making Mumbai’s tormentor in the Super League, left-arm swing bowler Balakrishna Jadeja look ordinary.
After failing to connect a sweep and being trapped leg before by left-arm spinner Rajesh Dhruv for 49, the rest of the day belonged to the Jaffer-Rahane duo who brought up their fourth century stand of the season.
While Jaffer was at ease, driving on either side of the pitch with elegance and going over the infield at will. Rahane, 24 shy of the 1000-mark, started unusually slowly.
Otherwise a free stroking batsman, Rahane (52 batting) was totally subdued, because he was nearing a major milestone. The moment he crossed 1000, with a six off Kamlesh Makvana over long-on, Rahane regained his confidence. He had taken 94 deliveries to score 26 and cross the 1000 mark.