When Mumbai's batsman Wasim Jaffer was chosen as the sole specialist opener for the Bangladesh series, it was a tremendous show of confidence in the man and his ability. The very fact that no other regular opener was chosen was for two reasons. There was a belief that Jaffer would be good enough to play both the matches, and also the step would help accommodate most of the middle order batsmen.
Now the first ball failure in the first Test can be a freak occurrence, a terrible lack of misjudgment which has befallen even the greats like Sunil Gavaskar a few times in their career. But the way things have been shaping up for the last eleven months for the opener, he may soon be compelled to tighten his laces.
Consistency is the hallmark of an opening batsman. And Jaffer is certainly considered technically sound to be consistent on a regular basis. But after he scored that tremendous double century, a 212 against the West Indies followed by two fifties, he has seen a downward trend only.
Starting with the final Test at Kingston, Jamaica, that India won, the Indian opener has now played nine innings. In six of these he has failed to reach double digits. An average of 20.77 which does not befit a specialist batsman of any stature, leave aside an opener.
Less than 10
St Kitts, 2006
After June 2006, when India played at St Kitts, Jaffer has only one century to show for his efforts — in a losing cause at Cape Town. Take that 116 away and he has just 71 runs to show from the rest of the eight innings!.
So eleven months, nine innings, and less than 200 on the score-sheet. Jaffer should be a worried man.
Overall, the Mumbaikar has done enough since his comeback. He was averaging a measly 20 when he was dropped after the Nottingham Test in 2002, left to hibernate for a good three and a half years. Now he averages a competitive 33. Solid but not good enough.
If the immediate form is any indication, he may be going through the worst ever slump of his career. The next three innings against a lowly-rated opposition should be a perfect opportunity to make a comeback.