Imagine being in the shoes of Wasim Jaffer, whose life has been wedded to cricket. For nearly his entire career, he had worn Mumbai cricket’s Lion Crest on his chest but he had shifted to Vidarbha three seasons ago. Last year, he helped them lift the famous Ranji Trophy. There was to be one final bitter-sweet feeling before the year ended – a tussle with his Mumbai awaited him. Would he let the sentimental feelings cloud him? He answered with the bat, scoring 178 runs in a day to propel Vidarbha to a mammoth 511 and it took just one and half days to ensure Mumbai were out of the tournament.
More than joy, the victory left him with a touch of sadness about the way Mumbai played without intensity and purpose. The lack of initiative from seniors, he feels, has let down Mumbai.
Vidarbha, the defending champions, defeated Mumbai by an innings and 146 runs. A bonus point ensured that Vidarbha would lead the table among Group A and Group B of Ranji Trophy. On the other hand, Mumbai wobbled away, their second innings lasting just 34.4 overs as the left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate ran through them with a 6 wicket haul.
Jaffer had just one feeling while standing at the slips: a touch of sadness that his old team had slipped down so alarmingly.
“I felt really said. Not just me but also Chandu (Chandrakant Pandit, former Mumbai coach who now coaches Vidarbha). We were saddened with the way Mumbai played. Results don’t matter but we felt that the intensity was missing. Dekh key kharaab lagta hai (it felt bad watching them play like this).”
‘Seniors need to step up’
Jaffer feels Mumbai’s seniors need to take more responsibility.
“The seniors need to step up in Mumbai team with their performances which is not happening now. Earlier we learnt from our seniors and they were the ones who set the benchmark for us. Same thing should happen now with this Mumbai team. Seniors need to step up with performances.”
Mumbai’s woes were highlighted by the fact that Vidarbha was missing their best young pacer Rajneesh Gurbani, who was injured during the second innings. With just three bowlers, Vidarbha weren’t sure whether to make Mumbai follow-on but they took their chance and as Jaffer says Mumbai batsmen played a part in their own downfall. Apart from Sarwate, Akshay Wakhare and Akshay Karnewar took two wickets each.
Jaffer was surprised with the ease of victory. “We didn’t expect to win so easily. We were in two minds whether to give follow-on or not as Gurbani was injured. And if Mumbai had batted well, then there would have been a lot of load on all three bowlers,” Jaffer says. “Mumbai actually played to our hands. Attitude was missing. They were all out in 34 overs. It’s not that ball was turning too sharp nor was there any steep bounce off the pitch. The shot selections were bad, felt sad to see that state. Win and loss are fine but the way Mumbai played was disappointing.”
Most of the Mumbai batsmen fell, going for big shots. Shreyas Iyer was caught at the deep and Aditya Tare was caught in slips, chasing. Maybe the plan was to get some quick runs to give Vidarbha some target but it backfired drastically.
At 40, Jaffer is still going strong. In the last seven games, he has piled up three tons. “Yes, everything is going well. I made two successive hundreds and a 150. At 40, it’s not easy to recover after long knocks but I try to take good care – with dieting and more time at the gym.”
Vidarbha has qualified now for knock-outs and with Umesh Yadav expected to return to the team after Australia series, the team will be at its strongest. His old team might have faded away but his new team would be in reckoning to defend the title again.
Brief scores: Vidarbha 511 beat Mumbai 252 (Jay Bista 64,Dhurmil Matkar 62 not one, Shubham Ranjane 52, Akshay Wakhare 5-85) and 114 (Dhurmil Matkar 36, Shreyas Iyer 22, Aditya Sarwate 6-48) by an innings and 145 runs. Points: Vidarbha 7, Mumbai 0