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Wasim Jaffer revives India

The Mumbai opener has now scored 2 centuries in 4 Tests since his return.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 19:03 IST

The sun was shining bright and with it the stars of India. After being dominated by the West Indies in the first half of the first Test, the visitors were back in the game and by lunch on Day 4, reached a position from where they could even think of putting pressure on the home team.

Leading the recovery operation ahead of the bigger names was Wasim Jaffer, who received suitable support from Rahul Dravid after sharing useful partnerships with Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman.

It was a standout performance from the Mumbai opener, who has now scored two centuries in four Tests since returning to the side after four years. Both have come in the second innings with the team under pressure and this adds value to his efforts.

Jaffer had a decent tour of the West Indies in 2002 when he scored two half-centuries in three Tests but by his own admission, he has returned to international cricket a confident man, which showed in the way he went about his job in the second innings.

At a time when protecting wickets was the need of the hour, he didn't let the scoring opportunities go, cutting an elegant picture playing through the off side - particularly off the backfoot - and also played some handsome shots off the pads.

The Indian reply after conceding a first-innings lead of 130 began on a positive note. Jaffer and Sehwag were cautious with deliveries outside the off but found plenty of gaps to score the boundaries as Brian Lara set an aggressive field.

The move was justified, but there was no terror in the attack, which lost Fidel Edwards due to a hamstring strain, and unlike in the first innings, the Indians were a lot more judicious in their shot selection.

Sehwag and Laxman, however, paid for trying something extravagant. While the opener fell trying an expansive drive without getting anywhere near the ball, the manner Laxman got out in must disturb him for some time.

He was deceived by one from leftarm wrist spinner Dave Mohammed that spun the other way and didn't allow the batsman to hit the ball with the spin. Considering the situation of the match, it was an irresponsible shot.

From India's point of view, the encouraging point was that both these batsmen had spent some time in the middle and shared 70-plus stands with Jaffer. The team needed a bigger partnership at this stage and Jaffer couldn't have found a better partner.

The greatness of Dravid's batting lies in the fact that he can play according to the situation and seeing Jaffer stroke the ball smoothly, the captain chose to play the second fiddle.

That he had less than 50 when their partnership crossed 150 shows how splendidly Dravid did his job.