Sitting atop a pile of runs, Sarfaraz Khan was a shattered man after failing to break into the Indian team for the upcoming Test series against Australia.
Not one to give up, the Mumbai run-machine sent the national selectors yet another reminder on Tuesday, notching up his third century in the ongoing edition of Ranji Trophy to extend his astonishing run in the Indian domestic circuit.
That Mumbai could make 293 before being bowled out on the first day of their Group B match against traditional rivals Delhi, was largely due to the 25-year-old’s 125 off 155 balls at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
The innings was a timely one, coming barely days after his snub for the high-profile four-match series against a formidable Australian team. The prolific batter not being picked for the Indian team has been a subject of an intense debate for the past two days.
When his team needed him the most, he responded to the call and reached one of his most significant tons with a nudge for a single.
Sarfaraz then took off his helmet, did the signature thigh-five celebration, and gestured towards his teammates on the boundary line.
In return, his teammates rose to pay a standing ovation, while chief coach Amol Muzumdar doffed his hat at the batter.
It was no surprise that his younger brother Musheer Khan was the most ecstatic in the Mumbai camp.
It was not an easy outing as Sarfaraz came in to bat with his team in a spot of bother at 62 for thee, replacing his 17-year-old brother Musheer. He then saw skipper Ajinkya Rahane making his way back to the dressing room after being dismissed by medium pacer Pranshu Vijayran to leave Mumbai at 66 for four.
Wicketkeeper Prasad Pawar (25) got out after getting a start, paving the way for a sixth-wicket stand of 144 runs between Sarfaraz and Shams Mulani (39).
In-form opener Prithvi Shaw was the second highest scorer for Mumbai, with a characteristic 35-ball 40.
Vijayran (4//66) was the most successful bowler on the day for Delhi, while there were two wickets apiece for Harshit Rana and Yogesh Sharma.
Left-arm spinner Yogesh was unfortunate not to have got the key wicket of Sarfaraz as keeper Anuj Rawat missed a stumping off his bowling much before the batter had reached his hundred.
In the last two Ranji Trophy seasons, Sarfaraz has amassed 1,910 runs in just 12 games, averaging 136.42. He scored seven centuries in 18 innings, and also made 11 fifties.
Since 2019, the Mumbai batter has scored 2,289 runs in 22 innings at an average of 134.64 with nine hundreds, five fifties, two double hundreds and a triple ton.