Wasim Jaffer has rarely disappointed the faithful at the Wankhede Stadium. He has worn Mumbai’s lion crest with pride, showed unflinching loyalty to the many time champion team for 17 years, became a prolific run scorer and figured in seven national championship wins. On Sunday he turned out to be the main stumbling block for Saurashtra on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final. The elegant right hander drew on his long years of first class experience with an upright stance, excelled in forward and back play, generally showed the touch of class that has made him one of India’s finest opening batsmen. More significantly he thwarted Saurahstra for eight minutes short of six hours, faced 246 balls, struck 16 fours and one six for Mumbai to consolidate its position in the final posting 287 for six wickets.

It also turned out to be a memorable day for him individually as he became the highest run scorer in the Ranji Trophy in 109 matches, surpassing Amol Muzumdar’s 9105 and also becoming the highest century maker in the tournament taking his tally to 32, one more than Ajay Sharma’s 31. He may have run out of luck when umpire K. Hariharan adjudged him leg before to left arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, for before he was eventually given the marching orders, two appeals had gone in his favour. He had added seven runs to his overnight 11 when he survived a confident shout for a catch at the wicket of the bowling of left arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat and later in the day for a run out appeal when he was on 107. On this occasion the referral to the third umpire (Virender Sharma) referral saved him.

Mumbai’s batting in response to Saurashtra’s paltry first innings was like the day’s weather; dull as well as bright. The seamers Unadkat, Siddharth Trivedi and Sauraya Sanandiya were penalised 13 times for overstepping the popping crease and they may not have been as incisive on a surface that had plenty of life in it, but they competed as a team, strove to create opportunities and kept Jaffer and Kaustubh Pawar in check. Jaffer took 78 balls to hit his third boundary shot. In fact he hit three in a single over from Jadeja as Mumbai reached 88 for two at lunch.

The dour opening stand was broken when Pawar ---- after not scoring in 84 balls of the 90 he faced --- lobbed a catch to bowler Trivedi. Then Aditya Tare followed a ball from Sanandiya and offered a straighyforward catch to Aarpit Vasavada at second slip. Sachin Tendulkar escaped a leg before appeal while not offering a shot to Sanandiya and was beaten hands down by the same bowler. But after he scored his first run of the 15th ball, he struck two lovely shots off Trivedi before Kamlesh Makvana took advantage of Jaffer’s diffidence at the non-striker’s end to run him out with an accurate throw from point.

Jaffer picked up two fours of Trivedi for Mumbai to take the first innings lead and thereafter he cover drove Jadeja for a four to reach his 32nd Ranji Trophy century. After his dismissal, Mumbai lost Ajit Agarkar, but Hiken Shah and Dhawal Kulkarni have held fort for 71 minutes for the home team to enjoy a lead of 139 runs with four wickets in hand. Saurashtra took the second new ball after 87 overs.

Scoreboard

Saurashtra (1st Innings) 148

Mumbai (1st Innings) W. Jaffer lbw b D.Jadeja 132, K. Pawar c & b Trivedi 21, A.Tare c Vasavada b Sanandiya 3, S.Tendulkar run out (Makvana) 22, A. Nayar c Unadkat b Makvana 26, H.Shah batting 41, A.Agarkar lbw b Jadeja 2, D.Kulkarni batting 18, Extras (lb7,nb13,w2) 22 , Total (for 6 wkts in 94 overs) 287

Fall of wickets: 1-75, 2-89, 3-157, 4- 209, 5-233, 6-237

Saurashtra bowling: Unadkat 24-3-49-0, Trivedi 19-4-37-1, Sanandiya 18-5-51-1, D.Jadeja 19-0-96-2, Makvana 14-1-47-0.

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