Jaffer and Pujara: genial giants of domestic cricket

Wasim Jaffer opens his bat face to play square on the off side PTI

One is like the father time of Indian domestic cricket, enduring season after season after season, and the other has this unquenchable thirst to make big, match-defining runs regardless of the level he's playing in. Wasim Jaffer and Cheteshwar Pujara. Two genial gents. Two giants of domestic cricket. As they prepare for another final, here's a brief of their feats in Ranji Trophy through the prism of numbers.

Two old-school batsmen

Albeit making their first-class debuts almost ten years apart, both Jaffer and Pujara seem to be cast in a similar mould.

Jaffer, who started his career with Mumbai, moved to Vidarbha ahead of the 2015-16 season. Soon to be 41, Jaffer is the most-capped Ranji Trophy player with 148 games. His tally of 11,741 runs at 58.12 is 2500 more than the next best - Amol Muzumdar's 9202.

Pujara, meanwhile, is one of the few current India players who play Ranji Trophy whenever they are available. Despite 68 Test matches for India, he has represented Saurashtra 61 times in the Ranji Trophy, scoring 5617 runs at 69.34. His average is the sixth-highest among those with 5000 or more Ranji Trophy runs.

Form this season

Last week, Jaffer became the first batsman to reach the 1000-run milestone in two seasons, during Vidarbha's semi-final against Kerala. He is the second-highest run-scorer this season behind Sikkim's Milind Kumar (1331). Jaffer's 206 against Uttarakhand in the quarter-final ensured Vidarbha needed to bat only once.

After a successful tour of Australia, Pujara joined his Ranji side and played pivotal roles in both quarter-final and semi-final, with unbeaten knocks of 67 and 131 as Saurashtra successfully chased 372 and 279 against Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka respectively. Before going to Australia, he scored 56 against Chhattisgarh in the opening round of the tournament. While Sheldon Jackson has been the leading run-scorer for Saurashtra this season, Pujara's influence has been more than just his runs.

Penchant for big scores

Both Jaffer and Pujara have a hunger for big hundreds. Out of the 40 times Jaffer has reached 100 in Ranji Trophy, he has converted 19 of those into a 150-plus score. On four of those occasions, he went past 250, and converted two of those into triple-hundreds. In fact, both his triple-hundreds - 314 not out in 1996-97 and 301 in 2008-09 - have come against Saurashtra.

Pujara boasts of similar numbers. Although he has only 20 Ranji Trophy hundreds - half of Jaffer's tally - 11 of those are in excess of 150, including four double and two triple-hundreds.

Record in knockout games

When it comes to knockouts, Pujara's numbers are much better. In nine knockout games in the Ranji Trophy, Pujara has 1010 runs at an average of 84.17. In comparison, Jaffer has played 32 knockout games, scoring 2394 runs at 48.86 - almost at ten points lower than his Ranji average.

Jaffer, though, has the experience of playing as many as nine Ranji finals. And in each of those, he finished on the winning side. In those games, he scored 948 runs at 67.71. On the other hand, Pujara has been part of just one Ranji final so far, in 2015-16 when Mumbai beat Saurashtra by an innings and 21 runs. Pujara scored 4 and 27 in that match.