Day Two, Ranji Trophy 2008-09 Semifinals, Mumbai vs Surashtra and Tamil Nadu v Uttar Pradesh
Mumbai vs Saurashtra - First Semifinal
Sachin Tendulkar is having a match-simulation net. But the beauty of the man is such that he can make even a knock in the nets look like art. That's not a willow he wields, it is a brush and he is painting a three-dimensional masterpiece for us all.
Look at the youngsters like Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara rolling their arms over...true they are trying but do they look like guys who want to end the master's creative surge? Not to me...they are lining up to bowl to Sachin so that they can understand better the angles and possibilities from the best position in the ground. They'd be keen to incorporate this knowledge into their own game. You can see it in their eyes!
As Sachin began playing 360 degrees along all three axis, Jaffer felt prompted and emboldened. He began to emulate some leg-side strokes of the master and his score began to chug along a little. He got to his 250, almost was taken caught and bowled...difficult, but expected chance towards the right of the bowler and now has his sights fixed on 501 and has suitably hauled in his enthusiasm, preferrring to let the master fire his team's scoring rate up.
Wasim Jaffer does indeed get these beautiful urges once in a while...you have to pinch yourself to remind that this is only Ranji, a flat deck, very mediocre bowling...mainly spin, his team is some 500 plus for two wickets and there is the master on the other side disallowing any clustering of pressure - it is then, having pinched onself to the reality, that one realizes what a sophisticated and elegant Ranji dada Jaffer is. This is his environment, he straddles it like a dinosaur once straddled land masses, the complete and real emperor of this world. We will leave the asteroid theory of international cricket aside for the moment and simply enjoy the magnificience of such over overwhelming domination.
There is beauty in the way he lifts that front foot and places it emphatically forward and brings his mobile instruments of head and arms in one line over the ball. The alertness to defend in all the euphoria leaves one awestruck at the man's focus. At times even Sachin pales for correctness...he almost looks like a teen rebel at the other side.
At last call, Jaffer is 291 not out and Sachin 122 playing. Mumbai are just a hundred or so off the minimum 700 1st innings plan...558 for 2.
Just as I say that, Sachin retires hurt (reportedly having fever) to give Amol Mazumdar a hit. Didn't this chap retire?
Let's sit back and enjoy.
- - -
Makes you also wonder and helps put things in perspective - a champion team like Mumbai, endowed with brilliant riches, steeped in cricketing culture, 37 times winner, where certain cricket-playing qualities are engraved into your chromosomes by high preists, to be passed on from one generation to another in burgeoning flux of natural selection...such a team, Mumbai, shuddres to declare with 564 on the board already and bowlers like Zak (India's no. 1 and ICC Top Ten bowler), Kulkarni, Powar in their ranks! It is said that the standard and competitiveness of play will rise if stars play....they will infuse the positive culture they learn from international cricket...yougsters will learn to win a match from any sitaution...Amazing! It truly is an amazing statement by the Mumbai intenationals and perhaps points to two dangers - 1) Cheteshwar Pujara...1 = 11 and 2) highlights the trepidation Mumbai bowlers are feeling at the thought of bowling on this wicket. No confidence....
- - -
Mazumdar scratched around and perished to a set up by B Jadeja bowling at a max speed of 109 kph. Start with bowling out of his reach...let him feel tempted to lean out and then start narrowing the width...Bingo! here was the nick and taken. Gone for 2.
Rohit Sharma gave the customary chance which wasn't taken by the keeper this time.
And then Wasim Jaffer achieves one step of his milestone quest - 300 up! Well played young man!
Saurashtra must question their philosophy - they came not believeing they could pressure the Mumbai batsmen...they played that way from about over number 8 or 9 of the innings. They did not even attempt to create an aura of pressure. Not Mumbai's fault the way te game is evolving at a snail's pace towards the eventual first innings lead business.
Jaffer is out! Caught fff the splice of a lazily elegant turn of the wrists off a half-cock forward foot by the bowler Dhruv, on is follow through. He's played that shor a zillion times this innings and profited. But not that time. So that's the end of a marathon innings. Like I said before, well played young man!
Abhishek Nayar is next in.
Tamil Nadu v Uttar Pradesh: Second Semifinal at Nagpur
Uttar Pradesh with a better attack and more purpose came back to hit hard on the second day. They have halted a Mumbai-like march by Tamil Nadu and have them at 435 for 9 at the moment of typing. ALL UP bowlers, except Piyush Chawla, have taken wickets...yes, including Suresh Raina in his bowling avatar.
Vidyut comes a cropper again when his team needs him to play and the middle order evaporates till some resistance lower down. The same patters as their quarter final match against Bengal.