Jaffer century ensures draw
Saurasthra 580-9d (Chauhan 157, Pathak 116, Powar 4-176, Zaheer 3-82) drew with Mumbai 360 (Shah 113, Yadav 111, Maniar 5-71) & 276-4 (Jaffer 110*, Yadav 67, Nayar 67)
Wasim Jaffer returned to form with a comfortable century, which became the only element of interest in the match on Friday, which Saurashtra had dominated on the previous three days before having to settle for a draw. They earned three valuable points to keep their chances of making the knockout stage still alive. Despite getting only a solitary point Mumbai are well placed, on 17 points and in second spot behind group leaders Karnataka.
The early morning chill on Friday was an encouraging sign for the hosts' new-ball pair of Jaydev Unadkat and Sandip Maniar, Saurashtra's first-innings' hero with a five-for. In the second over, Unadkat duly angled a delivery across a helpless Kaustubh Pawar, who could only edge it back to the wicketkeeper. Pawar had managed only eight runs in the first innings and the second time around he could add only five more.
His opening partner Sushant Marathe, who had made an eight-ball duck on Wednesday evening, battled for 100 minutes for just one run. Then he played a cross-batted stroke too far from his body to a delivery that moved away from him. It seemed to take a thin edge on its way to wicketkeeper Sagar Jogiyani, who accepted his second offering of the morning. Marathe remained unimpressed with the umpire's decision, shaking his head in disapproval throughout his walk back to the dressing room.
As the sun came out, Jaffer and Suryakumar Yadav played with more assurance to dominate the bowlers. Yadav, who had hit an aggressive century in the first session on Thursday, was more circumspect and took eighteen deliveries to open his account. Jaffer, who hadn't made even a fifty so far this season, returned to form, playing elegant strokes and lofting the slow bowlers for his trademark straight sixes.
Once the match moved to the second session without the fall of any more wickets, it became of academic interest. So much so that Saurashtra bowled only spin after tea and Jaffer helped himself to his first century in twelve months. His last Ranji hundred came in a winning effort, against Gujarat last December which Mumbai won by an innings and 167 runs.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo