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Will Wasim Jaffer win his fifth Irani Cup?

Having been on the winning side of the Irani Cup only four times out of 12, veteran Wasim will look to make it count this time around as his Vidarbha side take on ROI today

Will Wasim Jaffer win his fifth Irani Cup?

Rest of India captain Ajinkya Rahane and Vidarbha’s star batsman Wasim Jaffer share a lighter moment during a practice session ahead of the Irani Cup match at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur yesterday. Pic/PTI

All eyes will be on Wasim Jaffer as Ranji Trophy champions (also defending champs) Vidarbha take on Rest of India (ROI) in the five-day Irani Cup match at Nagpur today.

The veteran opener has played 12 Irani Cup matches from 1997-98, but despite being the top run-getter in this competition (1294 runs at 64.70), Jaffer has experienced victory only four times – once each for Mumbai and Vidarbha and twice while representing Rest of India.

He was part of Vidarbha’s victorious squad last March when he registered his highest score, 286 in the competition as his team posted 800-7 declared. The former India opener will turn 41 on Saturday and will look to continue this season’s Ranji Trophy form to help Vidarbha win again. The right-handed batsman scored 1037 runs in 11 Ranji matches to become the second highest run-scorer in the 2018-19 edition.

The Mumbaikar made his Irani Cup debut for Mumbai against ROI in October 1997 when his 83 in the first innings at Wankhede Stadium contributed in the hosts’ win over Anil Kumble’s side by 54 runs.

He experienced his next Irani Cup victory after nine years – in his sixth Irani Cup match. He led ROI to victory against Uttar Pradesh at Nagpur in this game. Jaffer, who smashed three centuries in Irani Cup, scored a fighting 116 and 101 not out for Rest of India and Mumbai in 2002 and 2013 respectively, but was unlucky to be on the losing side in both years. He moved to Vidarbha in 2015.

While he has been on the losing side on more occasions than in winning situations, Jaffer has now a chance of being part of back-to-back champion squads. But before that, Vidarbha will have to play their ‘A’ game against the Ajinkya Rahane-led ROI who will stretch every sinew to impress the national selectors.

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