Before first-class debut, Armaan Jaffer shines on big stage

Armaan Jaffer showed his class against a quality New Zealand attack in his innings of 69 on Saturday.

Written by Sahil Malhotra | New Delhi | Updated: September 18, 2016 3:00 am
armaan jaffer, jaffer, india cricket, mumbai vs new zealand, new zealand vs mumbai, cricket news, cricket Armaan Jaffer fell short of his hundred against New Zealand on Saturday. (Source: Express file photo)

About three years ago at the St Stephens Ground in New Delhi, Armaan Jaffer, representing Mumbai U-16 in the Vijay Merchant Trophy final against Delhi, outbatted the opposition with his monumental 290-run knock. Over 700 minutes spent at the crease, 464 deliveries faced and 45 boundaries and two sixes hit.

Jaffer played a special hand, very special hand. This was after his heroics in the Mumbai school circles and before his record run in the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy 2015-16. The right-hander showed immense hunger at a very young age and has never looked back since then.

With a very straight game, Jaffer has scored tons of runs in Mumbai age-group cricket and went on to play for India at the U-19 World Cup earlier this year. He wasn’t part of the tours preceding the tournament but with three consecutive double hundreds he stormed his way into the 15-member squad.

Right from a young age, Jaffer has been hungry, focussed and grounded. Even during the 290-run knock against Delhi U-16 in January, 2013, not once did the helmet come off. A very shy raise of the bat and he got back to business. 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 didn’t matter as he went about doing his job with supreme confidence.

Talking of confidence, there was no dearth of it when he walked out to bat early for Mumbai in the three-day warm-up against New Zealand. Opener Jay Bista was out early in the first over and in walked 17-year-old Jaffer. With the shining new ball was Trent Boult but the youngster played the seamer on merit, not reputation.

He patiently took guard and was ready to face an international seamer, even before making his first-class debut. Bowled at a brisk pace, Boult pitched one up. No early nerves and Jaffer went after that one, creaming it straight down the ground to get off the mark in fine fashion.

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New Zealand, keen to try the slow bowlers in the warm-up, introduced Mitchell Santner early into the attack. The youngster went after Santner from the word go as he hit him for a straight clean six before collection another boundary.

The right-hander remained unbeaten at the close of play on Day 1 and continued in similar fashion on the second day. He was very assured while leaving deliveries outside the off-stump and used his feet well against the spinners.

He was very comfortable against Santner, in particular. While Kaustubh Pawar was happy to hold one end up, Jaffer continued to score runs at a brisk pace. The Mumbai lad was cruising in the 60s when Ish Sodhi was given the ball in the 38th over of the innings.

The leggie made immediate impact as he got rid of Jaffer with a leg-break when the right-hander was batting on 69. The ball turned just enough to take his outside edge and Luke Ronchi did the needful behind the stumps. Jaffer bailed Mumbai out of trouble and improved his chances of making first-class debut when the 2015 champions commence their defence.