Mumbai in command against Saurashtra in Ranji semis

January 4th, 2009 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Jan 4 (IANS) Skipper Wasim Jaffer notched his fourth hundred of the tournament while Ajinkya Rahane struck a half-century as Mumbai put themselves in commanding position in the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Saurashtra here Sunday.Jaffer’s 162 and Rahane’s 52 carried Mumbai to 268 for one at the close of the first day’s play of the four-day clash.

On a docile pitch that allowed the batsmen the luxury of even playing across the line, as Jaffer did, Mumbai took full advantage of batting first after winning the toss.

Rahane, who has been on an impressive form, completed 1000 runs for the season.

The batsmen could not have hoped for better conditions as Saurashtra bowlers toiled for little rewards. While the occasional delivery did jump and spin, there was little encouragement for the bowlers.

Jaffer and Vinayak Samant (49) put on 91 runs for the first wicket and thereafter, the proceedings were down a one-way street.

On Samant’s departure, Jaffer and Rahane, who looked set for his fifth century of the season, were involved in an unbroken 177-run stand.

Jaffer (162, 275 balls, 19×4) scored his 36th first-class hundred and was rarely troubled either by the new ball bowlers, who in any case lacked the pace, or the spinners.

He executed some delectable flicks and drives in front of the wicket, and as if for variation, hit a few across-the-line shots to the onside.

Mumbai’s intentions were fairly obvious and that was to grind the opposition to dust even if it meant a slow progress initially and then stepping up the scoring rate as the bowlers tired on a relatively hot and humid day.

With Jaffer controlling the flow of runs, Rahane was an ideal foil with his solid defence and risk-free batting. Rahane’s 52 came in 154 balls and included two fours and one six.

Saurashtra can now only hope to outbat their opponents for the vital first innings lead, a task that would be anything but easy as the wicket is already affording some sharp turn.

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