The Ranji Trophy quarterfinal between defending champion Vidarbha and rookie Uttarakhand was expected to be a David versus Goliath-like battle. If Wasim Jaffer and R. Sanjay had virtually converted it into a no-contest on the second day, Thursday saw the home team batsmen — led by the veteran’s double hundred — killing the competition with able support from the batting line-up.
Thanks to Jaffer’s ninth double hundred in first-class cricket, his 304-run partnership with Sanjay, followed by Akshay Wadkar’s stellar show with the willow and a 115-run association for the sixth wicket with Aditya Sarvate, Vidarbha pulverised a hapless Uttarakhand attack to end the day at 559 for six, with a sizeable lead of 204.
Jaffer and Sanjay — the overnight centurions — had no trouble in getting their eye in with Uttarakhand starting with part-timers to unleash the pacers after the new ball was available 11 overs into the day’s play. But Sanjay and Jaffer enjoyed the ball coming on to the bat.
Jaffer, especially, was in no mood to relent and it reflected in his wristy flick and a pull to fine-leg off Sunny Rana to bring up his third 150-plus score of the season. Despite Sanjay running out of patience outside off and edging to first slip and Ganesh Satish having a rare failure to give Dhanraj Sharma wickets in successive overs, Jaffer was well on course to convert the big hundred into his first double of the season.
He straight-drove Rana for an elegant boundary to move from 191 to 195 and after four singles with Wadkar, who had got off to a brisk start, for company, Jaffer reached the landmark with a tap to covers soon after lunch.
The tiring tiger perished soon afterwards, offering catching practice to Vineet Saxena in the slips after one from left-arm Mayank Mishra bounced a little bit more than he anticipated. But Wadkar continued to play impressively, driving and flicking with aplomb.
Two runs short of what would have been a deserving hundred, Wadkar attempted an audacious heave off Mishra after charging down the wicket and saw the ball crashing into the stumps. Despite missing a hundred, Wadkar and Sarvate’s impressive partnership has all but ensured Vidarbha won’t have to bat again.
All through the league stage, the Ranji debutant Uttarakhand has bowled more than 100 overs in an innings only twice. Having already been on the field for 159 overs and with Vidarbha in no mood to declare early in the fourth day, it will be a monumental task for the visiting team to at least offer some resistance in its second dig.
Uttarakhand 1st innings: 355.
Vidarbha 1st innings: Faiz Fazal c sub (Khurana) b Dhapola 29, R. Sanjay c Saxena b Dhanraj 141, Wasim Jaffer c Saxena b Mishra 206, Ganesh Satish c sub (Khurana) b Dhanraj 0, Mohit Kale st. sub (Khurana) b Malolan 7, Akshay Wadkar b Mishra 98, Aditya Sarvate (batting) 57, Akshay Wakhare (batting) 3.
Extras (b-11, lb-3, nb-4): 18.
Total (for six wkts. in 159 overs): 559.
Fall of wickets: 1-45, 2-349, 3-349, 4-370, 5-438, 6-553.
Bowling: Dhapola 33-7-89-1, Dhanraj Sharma 23-4-87-2, Mishra 24-1-101-2, Malolan 35-1-104-1, Rana 29-2-101-0, Sudha 6-0-25-0, Panwar 2-0-10-0, Kaushal 7-1-28-0.