CHENNAI: Even as his team lost the final, Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan was named Player of the Tournament last Ranji season for scoring 982 runs which included four centuries. He did have a slow start this season but picked up pace in the next outing by slamming a ton.
Unfortunately for Tamil Nadu, the right-hand batter regained his ominous form against them hitting a fluent 162 off 220 balls to put his team in command on Day 2 of its Elite Group B Ranji Trophy match being played at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai on Wednesday.
Given the 25-year-old Sarfaraz’s show, Mumbai put 481 on the scoreboard taking a huge 337-run first-innings lead. Tamil Nadu were 62/1 in their second essay, still trailing by 275 runs, at the stumps. The burly batter played with a lot of responsibility and with the help of the tail managed to guide his team to an imposing total. He was watchful, played to the merit of the ball and stitched a good partnership with Tanush Kotian (71). The duo milked 167 runs for the seventh wicket from the stingless Tamil Nadu attack.
Sarfaraz took a single off R Sai Kishore to register his 12th first-class century and the second of this season. The hundred in the ongoing match spoke volumes of his character and temperament. He came in at a time when Mumbai were struggling, having lost top-four batters. But he took the attack to TN bowlers to put his team in driver’s seat.
‘’Very happy to get the ton and importantly it served the team’s cause. It was not easy to score runs as the bowlers were bowling well. I had to dig in deep into my experience and hang out in the middle to score those runs,’’ said Sarfaraz.
Beginning the day with a slender 39-run lead, the Sarfaraz-Kotian partnership has upset all the plans of Tamil Nadu. Their strategy of bowling short-pitched deliveries may have worked on the first day as Mumbai lost a couple of quick wickets. But on Wednesday Sarfaraz and Kotian played risk-free shots to make sure that they forge a good partnership.
‘’Playing with the tail is nothing new for me. Right from my Under-19 days, I have batted at No 5 or 6 and played with the tail. So with experience, I had an idea about how to go about the task and it worked,’’ explained Sarfaraz. He finally was caught behind by N Jagadeesan off a Trilok Nag but the last pair of Mohit Avasthi (69) and Siddharth Raut (31 not out) added 92 runs to pile on Tamil Nadu’s misery.
On Thursday, the visitors will be under immense pressure to save the game. The first hour will be crucial. ‘’We have got a good lead and are in a good position. The TN batters will be under pressure as they will have to bat long. We will certainly try and press for a win,’’ signed off Sarfaraz.
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Group A: At Cuttack: Nagaland 1st Innings 433 (Bist 129, Rupero 71; Tarani 3/86) vs Odisha 111/0 (Sarangi 75 batting)
Group B: At Rajkot: Delhi 133 vs Saurashtra 503/6 in 135 ovs (Desai 107, Chirag 75, Arpit 127 n.o., Samarth 54, Prerak 64); At Vizianagaram: Andhra 135 & 230/3 in 48 ovs (Gnaneshwar 72; Bharat 70 batting; Rakshan Readdi 3/65) vs Hyderabad 197 in 63.1 ovs (Nitish 4/64); At Mumbai: Tamil Nadu 144 & 62/1 in 16 ovs vs Mumbai 481 in 106.4 ovs (Sarfaraz 162, Tanush 71, Mohit 69)
Group C: At Bengaluru: Karnataka 202/1 in 64 ovs (Mayank 102, Samarth 81) vs Chhattisgarh 311 all out in 109.3 ovs (Ashutosh 135, Amadeep 93; Kaverappa 5/67, Vasuki 4/43); At New Delhi: Puducherry 216 all out in 62.4 ovs (Arun 58; Diwesh 3/39) vs Services 378/5 in 102 ovs (Rahul 137, Rajat 101); At Thumba: Kerala 265 all out in 95.3 ovs (Rohan 112; Lakshay 4/44) vs Goa 200/5 in 79 ovs (Ishaan 76 batting; Sijomon 3/35).