Mumbai veteran Wasim Jaffer’s 40-day break from the game seems to have worked wonders for him. The stylish right-hander, who missed the first three Ranji Trophy ties as he was away on pilgrimage (Haj), made a rather fresh and confident return to the game.
The former skipper scored a classy 80 and, in the company of Abhishek Nayar (62), bailed Mumbai out of a precarious situation on Day One of the Group ‘A’ encounter against Bengal at the Brabourne Stadium here on Saturday. The duo added 104 for the fourth wicket after the Bengal pacers had reduced Mumbai to 46/3 in the 20th over.
On a wicket that offered movement and turn, the hosts ended the day on 262 for seven. Dhaval Kulkarni (24) and Ramesh Powar (1) were at the crease when stumps were drawn. Veteran all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s troublesome line and length fetched him four wickets for 35 runs.
Asked to bat, Mumbai started the day on a shaky note. Left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena drew opener Kaustubh Pawar forward; the batsman did, got beaten and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha did the rest.
The next two wickets fell in quick succession. In-form Hiken Shah failed to continue his dream run and was out for a five-ball duck off Shukla. Skipper Rohit Sharma (1), too, lost another chance to impress the selectors after a fascinating ton in the previous game in Hyderabad. He edged one to Saha while trying to nudge seamer Shukla through third man.
It was left to the experienced pair of Jaffer and Nayar to rescue Mumbai. Apart from that one ‘life’ he got when slip fielder Arindam Das dropped a dolly off Shukla at 16, Jaffer looked fluent throughout his 151-ball knock. He was his usual relaxed self at the wicket and used his feet well against the spinners. The India discard earned plenty of ‘wows’ for his backfoot punches and wristy flicks. Jaffer pulled Saxena for a boundary to reach his half-century and followed it up with a drive to the mid-wicket fence.
Bengal were overjoyed after Shukla ended Jaffer’s stay. While trying to put one away to the leg side, Jaffer ended up edging the ball to Abhishek Jhujhunwala. Nayar, who survived a few anxious moments, too, made it count with a fighting 62 before being dismissed by seamer Veer Pratap Singh.
Mumbai 1st innings: W Jaffer c Jhunjhunwala b Shukla 80, K Pawar st Saha b Saxena 15, H Shah c Saha b Shukla 0, R Sharma c Saha b Shukla 1, A Nayar b Pratap Singh 62, AP Tare c Tiwary b Saxena 38, A Chavan c Arindam Das b Shukla 35, D Kulkarni not out 24, R Powar not out 1; Extras: (LB1, W1, NB4) 6; Total: (7 wickets; 90 overs) 262; FoW: 1-39, 2-40, 3-46, 4-150, 5-172, 6-228, 7-248; Bowling: Shami Ahmed 22-8-63-0 (W1), V Pratap Singh 18-6-53-1 (NB1), L Shukla 21-9-35-4 (NB3), I Saxena 28-5-101-2, A Jhunjhunwala 1-0-9-0