Pressing home the advantage
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Wasim Jaffer knows how cricket proceedings pan out at the Wankhede stadium like the back of his silken wrists. That, should you negotiate the ball's excitable trajectory in the first session, patiently see off the sprightly bowler's bending back, a reward awaits you as the day wears out. The seasoned opener braved this wicked lilting storm of the first session on Day 2, to save Mumbai from the same fate that Saurashtra suffered on the opening day, losing wickets in a clutch to the fresh morning and fresher ball.
Dharmendrasinh Jadeja had heard of Jaffer's stylish approach on the crease but had never witnessed his silent assault on opponents, but after being smacked for three boundaries in one over, and a six in the next as the shadows began to lengthen, he was aware of the whispering gale he had come up against in the Ranji final. On Sunday, Jaffer continued to enjoy this season with Mumbai as he cemented his place in domestic record books after registering the highest number of centuries in Ranji Trophy.
His elegant 132 ensured Mumbai gained the first-innings lead against Saurashtra on the second day, but crucially the opener had negated that most important advantage the visitors would be offered on Wankhede's pitch that has a history of rewarding bowlers in the first two hours. Mumbai had exploited the same claiming five wickets on Saturday with Dhawal Kulkarni on fire and it was evident that even visitors would have their chances if they could work up some furious spells to match that.
But Jaffer was an immovable wall, even as Jaydev Unadkat tried his best to trouble batsmen with his late swing. But for that one close call, which in hindsight can be said to have changed the equation of the game, he stayed sturdy throughout. The left-arm pacer Unadkat dug one short and moved the ball back, even as Jaffer responded playing close to his body. Saurashtra were confident they had Jaffer's blade but the umpire turned it down. Though TV replays confirmed the ball kissed Jaffer's bat, there was no visible deviation that could have rescued him from being sent back. Jaffer was on 8 then.
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