But the veteran batsman showed no jitters as the run-machine was back amongst runs straightaway with a fluent 80 on Day One as Mumbai posted 262 for seven against Bengal at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday. Dhaval Kulkarni and Ramesh Powar are batting on 24 and one respectively.
Batting in Mumbai’s khadoos style, Jaffer denied the visitors from taking an upper hand after losing three quick wickets on being put into bat. Jaffer and Abhishek Nayar (62) resurrected Mumbai’s innings after a wobbly start with a 104-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Elegant wrist work
Jaffer, currently the second highest run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy with 8400 runs, didn’t look like he was batting after a month’s break. The former India opener’s wrist work looked as good as ever, his timing perfect and shot selection near perfect. Jaffer admitted that he was nervous. “I was nervous going into the game because I hadn’t played competitive cricket for a while.
“It’s not easy coming back to first-class cricket after 40 days without any cricket. But, as I said, I had four days of good practice sessions and I got to play good bowlers, which helped. A batsman’s life is very complicated. So, I’m happy it worked out well for me,” said Jaffer, who believed a good off-season in England also helped him before going to Haj.
Shukla claims 4-35
Veteran medium-pacer Laxmi Ratan Shukla made good use of the seaming conditions, claiming 4-35 in his 21 overs. Shukla’s first victim was in-form Hiken Shah, who scored centuries in Mumbai’s last two matches, for a duck after being caught behind by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. Next in line was stand-in Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma (one), who was dismissed in an identical manner.
Shukla then came back to dismiss Jaffer, who fell 20 runs short of his 45th first-class ton. Jaffer, closing the face of the bat, got a leading edge to extra cover and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala made no mistake. Shukla’s fourth victim was Ankeet Chavan for 35. He was delighted with his performance. “It’s a good wicket. The conditions helped and I tried sticking to the basics. I am glad it worked to my advantage,” said the former India seamer.