At Sourav Ganguly's den, where even a half-century by Sachin Tendulkar gets a standing ovation underlining the little man's unquestionable popularity, and with Mohammed Azharuddin — the darling of Eden Gardens — watching from the VVIP box, a lean man from Mumbai made a statement.
His unbeaten 192 puts under threat the 281 by VVS Laxman, the highest individual score in this ground.
“I am not thinking that far. Let me score the first run on Saturday and I will take it from there,” the 29-year-old Jaffer said after the day's play. But it really might not be that far, considering the flatness of the wicket and the depleted Pakistan bowling attack. "The wicket is somewhat like Kotla's, on the slower side. I think the Pakistan bowling attack is weakened because Shoaib Akhtar, their strike bowler, has bowled just a few overs. Obviously he is not fully fit," Jaffer said.
Saturday is a new day. In international cricket he is yet to show the consistency of getting big ones for which he is known at the domestic level.
"Yes I was conscious today. I told myself that I would not give my wicket away. I think my run of big scores will begin from here. This has been my best knock by a distance and I have never scored as much in a single day," Jaffer said. What better place to begin a purple patch than at Eden. Part of the credit for Jaffer's day-long battle should also go to the three pillars of Indian batting - Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly. The first joined him early when Dinesh Karthik was out first ball of the second over and saw him to his 50. Jaffer was the dominant partner in terms of scoring rate and got there in 64 balls.
Tendulkar stayed long enough, his flamboyant batting and constant talking taking the pressure off Jaffer when he got bogged down, particularly on 99 when Pakistan pressured him with four close-in fielders. An exquisite drive to the extra-cover boundary got Jaffer to his fifth Test ton. Towards the end of the day, it was Ganguly who kept Jaffer's focus going. "It helped a lot," said Jaffer. "They were there every time I lost concentration," he said. And for further inspiration wife Ayesha was there in the stands. The giant screen picked her up when Jaffer got to his 150. Were you aware where she was? "Yes, I always know where my wife exactly is," seemed like a straight one past the bowler.