After being watchful on day one, Sarfaraz stood firm on day two and was rewarded for his perseverance with an unbeaten 119, which also marked the second time he crossed the 900+ runs mark in a Ranji Trophy season after amassing 928 runs in 2019/20 season, becoming just the third batter after Ajay Sharma and Wasim Jaffer to do so.
Resuming from 248/5 on day one, Mumbai lost Shams Mulani on just the second ball of the day when pacer Gaurav Yadav got one to jag back in and trap him plumb lbw. Sarfaraz first showed signs of shedding his cautious self when he sliced Ga over a backward point for a boundary.
With Gaurav and Anubhav Agarwal keeping things tight, Sarfaraz was unable to get his shots and was stuck on 45 for long. As soon as left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikya Singh got into the attack, Sarfaraz opened up by nailing a sweep over mid-wicket and reached his fifty with a single through the same region.
Sarfaraz continued to nail his sweep against Kartickeya while timing his straight-down-the-ground drives. Though Gaurav took out Tanush Kotian’s off-stump with a peach of a delivery and Dhawal Kulkarni nicked to the keeper off Anubhav Agarwal, Sarfaraz continued to march forward despite having a nasty collision with Gaurav. He even brought out the ramp shot against Anubhav, with the ball going over the keeper and slips for a cheeky boundary.
Sarfaraz then reached his century in 190 balls by driving Kartickeya down the ground to complete a superb knock under pressure. His celebrations on reaching the three-figure mark ranged from being teary-eyed and punching the air in delight to bringing out the kabaddi thigh-five, met with thunderous cheers from the Mumbai camp and a limited number of spectators in the stadium.
After reaching the century, Sarfaraz continued to attack Kartickeya, slog-sweeping him for a six-over deep mid-wicket and was followed by Tushar Deshpande slamming a boundary down the ground as Mumbai fetched 103 in the session.
Mumbai did enjoy the advantage during the first hour after Shaw opted to bat and, along with Jaiswal, took on the MP attack. The strategy to start with Kartickeya’s slow left-arm orthodox seemed to have backfired when Jaiswal took him on and lofted him over long-on for a six.
Shaw followed suit and hit Kartickeya over long-off for a six as they added 87 for the first wicket.
But while Jaiswal, with his drives and upper cuts, looked to continue from where he left in the semi-final, Shaw, despite his seven fours (at least three of them behind square) looked edgy.
The first breakthrough minutes before lunch break when Anubhav, who was bowling closer to the stumps, decided to move slightly wide and fired in a couple of deliveries with the angle.
Anubhav, who had started operating wide of the crease, started cramping the left-hander for room. As he was finding it difficult to get the boundaries, Jaiswal, without much room, tried the square cut but failed to keep it down and Dubey at gully took a sharp low catch.
Hardik Tamore (24) was living dangerously till Saransh got some drift and the delivery straightened after pitching, taking the outside edge into Rajat Patidar’s hands in the first slip.
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