Jaffer’s back in the mix

Injured Ajit Agarkar likely for next match; pacer Dhaval Kulkarni also available.

Wasim Jaffer returns to the Mumbai Ranji Trophy squad that will take on Bengal at the Cricket Club of India from December 1. The veteran middle-order batsman had skipped three Ranji Trophy games to complete his Haj pilgrimage and returned to Mumbai on Monday evening. Jaffer has informed the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) joint-secretary Nitin Dalal on Tuesday afternoon of his availability for the forthcoming match.

"Jaffer is back in Mumbai and is available for selection. I received a call from him (Jaffer) asking to be considered for the upcoming Ranji Trophy game," Dalal said. Mumbai travelled to Hyderabad with the hosts taking three points against the multiple-time former champions on Tuesday. Jaffer's return will certainly boost Mumbai's middle-order department, and relieve some work load from Abhishek Nayar's shoulders in the mid-to-lower-order. Jaffer has been a mainstay in Mumbai's line-up for nearly more than a decade and his experience has always played a crucial role for his side.

"He has a plenty of experience and Jaffer's presence will definitely be a big booster. We all know what he is capable of," Dalal added. It is an interesting race this season between Jaffer and his old-time Mumbai team-mate Amol Muzumdar, who moved to Andhra and reclaimed his highest run-getter spot in Ranji Trophy one match ago from Jaffer. Jaffer had surpassed Muzumdar's score of 8237 against Punjab last season. However, with two back-to-back hundreds against Himachal Pradesh recently, the 38-year-old Muzumdar took his tally to 8380 runs.

Meanwhile, though doubts persist about Ajit Agarkar's fitness for the upcoming Bengal game, the former India pacer is hopeful of getting fit before next Ranji tie at home. Agarkar has missed two Ranji games due to calf injury now and selectors have to rely on youngsters like Shardul Thakur.

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