After batting for 633 minutes and hammering 30 fours and eight sixes, Sarfaraz Khan joined the elite list of Rohit Sharma (309 not out) and Sunil Gavaskar (340) by becoming the seventh Mumbai batsman to score a triple ton in first-class cricket.
Staying true to his words, young Sarfaraz stuck his maiden triple 100 to single-handedly give Mumbai the crucial first-innings lead and grab three points on the last day of their Elite Group B Ranji Trophy match against Uttar Pradesh in Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday (January 22).
“I wasn’t going to come out to bat. I wasn’t well for the last two-three days. But I felt that I was the kind of player who could change the game if I remained in the middle. So I came out and played for the team,” Sarfaraz said.
Other cricketers on the list are Wasim Jaffer (301 and 314 not out), Ajit Wadekar (323), Vijay Merchant (359 not out) and Sanjay Manjrekar (377).
Right-handed Sarfaraz became the cynosure of all eyes after his unbeaten knock of 132 in the company of his skipper Aditya Tare, who was unbeaten on 9.
Uttar Pradesh had posted a humongous 625/8 declared in their first-essay courtesy wicket-keeper Upendra Yadavs unbeaten maiden double-ton.
But Sarfaraz’s (301 not out off 391 balls; 30×4; 8×6) herculean task overshadowed Yadav’s double-ton on a flat track, which had absolutely nothing for the bowlers even on the final day.
What is more special about his knock is that the pint-sized batsman was suffering from fever two nights ago, but he came out to bat and did the job for his team.
“I didn’t think I would be able to go all the way. When I got to 250, I felt I should declare (retire), but the team backed me a lot,” said the 22-year-old, who returned to Mumbai after playing in the Uttar Pradesh squad for three seasons.
Sarfaraz, who had played for Uttar Pradesh and returned to Mumbai, had all shots in the book. But more importantly, contrary to his style, he showed restraint and respected the good balls.
The hosts resumed the final day on overnight score of 353/5 needing 273 more runs to overhaul Uttar Pradesh’s first innings total.
Mumbai had a difficult task at hand, but the way Sarfaraz, who had faith in his abilities, built his innings, was remarkable.
Sarfaraz and Tare tore into a listless UP attack, as they were determined to fetch three points. They ensured that the first session remained wicketless, as Mumbai went into lunch at 434/7.
“After I got to 200, I slowed down. I did not hit a boundary for an hour until tea after I went past 200, my aim was that we had to go past 625,” he said.
Tare played a perfect second fiddle, as they duo launched a counter-attack. Sarfaraz first got able support from Tare (97 off 144 balls, 14×4) and then Shams Mulani (65 off 82 balls; 5×3; 1×6), as they took the game away from Uttar Pradesh.
While Sarfaraz and Tare added 179 runs for the sixth wicket, he and Mulani added 150 runs for the seventh wicket and it was their partnership that ensured Mumbai crossed Uttar Pradesh’s first-innings total.
Sarfaraz, who had completed his individual 250, took a single, as Mumbai surpassed Uttar Pradesh’s mammoth total and celebrated like the team had won the match. Then Mumbai allowed Sarfaraz to complete a well- deserved 300. He completed his triple ton with a six over wide long-on, after which the match was called off.
Uttar Pradesh bowlers struggled on day three and four and had an off-day in the field. They were able to take only take two wickets on the final day.
In the history of Ranji Trophy, only one higher total was surpassed in 1981-82 season when Karnataka made 705 and Delhi replied with 707/8.
Mumbai play Himachal Pradesh next in away encounter at Dharamshala, and Sarfaraz’s innings would have given the 41- times Ranji Trophy champions confidence that they can make the knock-outs.
Uttar Pradesh 625/8 declared v/s Mumbai 688/7 (Sarfaraz Khan 301 not out; Siddesh Lad 98; Ankit Rajpoot 3-133) Mumbai took the first-innings lead.
Mumbai 3 points, Uttar Pradesh 1 point. At Dharamshala: Himachal Pradesh 496 v/s Baroda 150/2 (Vishnu Solanki 85 not out; Vaibhav Arora 1-42). Match Drawn.
Himachal Pradesh 1 point, Baroda 1 point.
At Indore: Saurashtra 344 and 256/9 (Harvik Desai 115, Cheteshwar Pujara 69; Gourav Yadav 4-65) v/s Madhya Pradesh 280 and 223/9. Match Drawn.
Saurashtra took the first-innings lead. Saurashtra 3 points, MP 1 point.
(With inputs from agencies)