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Match Analysis

Suved Parkar shows shades of Ajinkya Rahane in serene debut hundred

Armaan Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan joined in the fun as Mumbai ended day one in a commanding position

Himanshu Agrawal
Suved Parkar emulated Sachin Tendulkar and Ajinkya Rahane, among others, by scoring a century on first-class debut for Mumbai, Mumbai vs Uttarakhand, Ranji Trophy quarter-final, Alur, June 6, 2022

Suved Parkar emulated Sachin Tendulkar and Ajinkya Rahane, among others, by scoring a century on first-class debut for Mumbai  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

You don't have to watch Suved Parkar for long to be reminded of Ajinkya Rahane.
There is the elbow guard, of course, but also the chin nudging the raised left shoulder while watching the bowler run in. And on Monday, the resemblance perhaps seemed even greater because it was Rahane's birthday. But beyond the mannerisms, there's the shared characteristic - the understated calm. Debut first-class century in the bag, Parkar took off his helmet off and raised his bat to the dressing room, no big show. Otherwise, too, he radiated equanimity.
Parkar had arrived at the crease when Mumbai were 64 for 2, with both openers surrendering good starts. His first ask was to see out the eight balls that remained until lunch. He got a single. Easily done.
For company, Parkar had the young - and also inexperienced - Armaan Jaffer. Initially, they focused on steadying the ship. So Uttarakhand captain Jay Bista, no stranger to being around Mumbai batters who can grind the opposition to the ground, to direct Akash Madhwal to shift to a short-ball strategy; 20 overs into the innings, he stationed a leg gully, a backward short-leg, a fine leg and a deep square-leg, while getting Madhwal to operate from around the wicket to both right-hand batters.
Madhwal banged it in short. Jaffer and Parkar were being cramped for room, but they managed to keep the ball down each time Madhwal got one to climb at them. There was no apparent discomfort, and in the 23rd over, Jaffer pulled Madhwal to the deep square-leg boundary. That put an end to the short-ball barrage plan.
Spin was introduced for the first time after 24 overs, and when left-armer Swapnil Singh dropped one short from around the wicket, Jaffer pulled him for six, with the ball threatening to land on a car parked beyond the boundary.
This was a partnership built on the foundation of blocks and leaves, but every now and then came a shot of aggression. If Jaffer creamed a cover drive and punch-flicked a back-of-a-length ball wide of mid-on, Parkar opened his bat face deftly to pick up a boundary behind square.
Both rode their luck on the way. On 35, a drive away from the body from Jaffer, found the outside edge only for the ball to evade first slip's reach. There was no one at second slip. In the next over - the 36th of Mumbai's innings - Swapnil tumbled to his left and dropped a catch off his own bowling when Parkar was on 18. With only six first-class matches for Jaffer before this one and none for Parkar, this was just the fortune they needed to be brave.
At the start of the 43rd over, when their stand was worth 75 in 164 balls, Jaffer and Parkar shifted gears. The next three overs, bowled by Dikshanshu Negi and Mayank Mishra, brought 31 runs, as Jaffer pulled, lofted and drove, while Parkar twice went over the bowler's head and cleared the straight boundary.
Jaffer crossed fifty in the process; he had earlier smashed 125 in Mumbai's innings win against Odisha in the group stage. Another quiet phase followed, after which Jaffer ended up edging Deepak Dhapola to second slip for 60. That ended a partnership of 112 in 37.2 overs.
It was just the cue for another to begin.
Sarfaraz Khan arrived at the crease and clattered three boundaries in his first seven balls. Not influenced, Parkar continued to tick the scoreboard over, playing his own game at his own tempo.
After that frenetic start, Sarfaraz quietened down as Uttarakhand's discipline improved over the next dozen or so overs. But for how long can you really keep Sarfaraz quiet? From 24 off 50 balls, he raced to his half-century, scoring 26 off the next 23 balls.
At the other end, having busied himself with the task of accumulating singles and ensuring Mumbai didn't lose their way, Parkar faced Madhwal when on 94. Madhwal pitched short and wide of off, and Parkar rose on his toes and punched to beat deep backward point to his left to move to 98. Three balls later, Madhwal went full and on the stumps, and Parkar clipped it wide of mid-on; or, more precisely, drove it wide of mid-on, with the full face of the bat meeting the ball right under his nose. Another little flash of Rahane, in the way the ball sped off his bat despite there being little to no follow-through.
Mid-on gave up the chase, and just beyond the boundary, Mumbai's players rose to their feet. Off came Parkar's helmet, and up went his bat.
Four overs later, Parkar walked off the field, unbeaten on 104 off 218 balls. With him was Sarfaraz, batting on 69 off 104. The two of them and Jaffer had put Mumbai in a commanding position at 304 for 3.
Jaffer is often remembered as his uncle Wasim's nephew; but as he did as a 13-year-old back in 2010, he could yet smash records with the sort of skill and temperament he displayed against Uttarakhand.
Sarfaraz, another schools-cricket prodigy back in the day, came into this game with scores of 275, 63, 48 and 165 in his four previous Ranji Trophy innings. By the end of the day's play, he had 620 runs for the season - at an average of 155.00 - and was only four runs away from displacing Chetan Bist on top of the season's run charts.
By scoring a century on first-class debut for Mumbai, Parkar emulated a feat Rahane had achieved 14 years ago. Rahane apart, Parkar joined a list featuring Sachin Tendulkar, his captain Prithvi Shaw, and his coach Amol Muzumdar, among others.
If he felt he'd done something special, he didn't show it. "There is nothing different, you just have to show patience," was how he summed it up.
Parkar is only 21, while Jaffer is 23 and Sarfaraz 24. Who knows what the future holds?

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo