On a batting paradise, Wasim Jaffer hit his fourth ton of the season to charge Mumbai to a healthy position by the end of the opening day in Chennai. With Sachin Tendulkar slated to bat next, Saurashtra might be on a leather hunt tomorrow
Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane reached 1000 runs in the season in contrasting knocks. While Rahane struggled for timing, Jaffer was, as ever, easy on the eye. Jaffer added 91 runs with Vinayak Samant before stitching together 177 runs in 55 overs with Rahane to grind down the Saurashtra attack.
The ball came on nicely to the bat on a pitch that is expected to turn from the third day and Jaffer made full use of the good batting conditions. It was a typical Jaffer knock, full of wristy flicks and back-foot punches. There were sashays down the track against the left-arm spinners and sweeps against the offspinner.
The interesting phase of the day came when the left-arm medium-pacer Balkrishna Jadeja, who operated from around the stumps, persisted with a wide line outside off stump in an effort to frustrate the batsmen. While Rahane was conservative, Jaffer countered it by repeatedly walking down the track and across the stumps to either drive through the off side or, if it was short in length, whip it through the on side. And when the wicketkeeper came up to the stumps, Jaffer shuffled to the off and unfurled late cuts.
Jaffer also capitalised on Rakesh Dhruv's errant line and hit him for 12 runs in an over. Dhurv had earlier taken the only wicket to fall in the day; opener Vinayak Samant was trapped lbw for 49 after he had added 91 with Jaffer.
Sandeep Jobanputra continued to be Saurashtra's best bowler, conceding only 50 runs in his 20 overs. But Jaffer brought up his fourth hundred of the season off his bowling - straight-driving to the boundary before late-cutting him through slip and gully. Ravindra Jadeja tried gamely with his left-arm spin but couldn't do much damage on the docile track.
Rahane, the top scorer of the season before this game, was not on song today. The bat came down in an angle and the feet refused to move into right positions but he fought through the phase to make another half-century.