Mumbai ride on Jaffer ton
Mumbai 242 for 2 (Jaffer 125*, Shah 67*, Mohanty 2-33) v Odisha
Odisha had been upbeat about their chances at the Wankhede a day before the match, but Wasim Jaffer, leading a green Mumbai team, scored his third century of the season - and 51st overall - to evaporate the visitors' hopes.
From Mumbai's perspective, it was a statement of intent after a below-par showing in their previous outing against Jharkhand. They went in with five batsmen and handed 41-year-old Pravin Tambe his maiden first-class cap. Choosing to bat, Jaffer and Hiken Shah put together a 172-run third-wicket stand, which turned the screws slowly on Odisha, Mumbai-style, as the home side ended the day on 242 for 2.
On an attritional day, Jaffer was the only batsmen to play with fluency. He opened the innings with a silky drive through the covers and continued playing one elegant shot after another. He upped the scoring a touch as the bowlers' spirits sagged in the latter half of the day, hitting a couple of wristy straight drives to move to the nineties before paddling one fine off the left-arm spinner Dhiraj Singh to get to his century. The spinner, who was hit for consecutive straight sixes by Jaffer earlier, was hit for another over midwicket immediately after the batsman reached his century.
In between, though, he maintained a stoical stance, leaving everything that was to be left and defending everything unhittable. Before the game, he had mentioned that over-dependency on his batting had been a problem for Mumbai, but he assumed the central role. He offered only one chance when, on 120, he flicked Biplab Samantray to midwicket, but Suryakant Pradhan dropped the easiest of chances.
Hiken Shah followed up his 58 and 21 not out from the last game with a half-century and in a symbiotic stand that crawled in its first half before opening up in the third session of the day, he became the ideal foil for Jaffer. "We could have scored more runs, but they were not coming easily," Shah said. "The idea was to just play on and give less wickets. We are playing five batsmen and that means there is added responsibility on each batsman."
Mumbai, playing their last league game at home this season, faced a probing spell from the Odisha seamers initially. Basant Mohanty, who had 22 wickets in the season before this match, asked a few questions of the batsmen on a typical Mumbai pitch that offered him bounce. He approaches the crease with a gingerly 15-step run-up and doesn't have much pace, but it's his accuracy and the pronounced use of wrists that has brought him success. He troubled Aditya Tare with the seam movement and had him caught behind.
Sushant Marathe, the other opener, had retreated into a shell after a couple of boundaries and was also set up by Mohanty. After bowling a number of deliveries just short of length, he pushed one further up and Marathe was slow to come forward. He lost his off stump, after scoring 27 from 102 deliveries. Mumbai were 70 for 2 in the 35th over at that stage as lunch was called.
But there was no luck for the visitors in the next two sessions. Jaffer and Shah added 84 in the second session before adding another 88 in the last, giving Mumbai a solid platform for a strong total. Mohanty was the best bowler for Odisha with figures of 24-10-33-2.