Services fails to pick up a single wicket on the second day

Shrugging off the mediocre batting display of the opening day, Mumbai provided a timely reminder to all why it remains the most successful side in Ranji Trophy.

Overnight batsmen Ajit Agarkar and Aditya Tare hit their second centuries in the National championship on a wicketless second day of the semifinals to seize the initiative from Services.

On a day when bad light and drizzle combined to restrict play to only 68 overs, Mumbai resumed at 199 for six and finished at 380 without further loss.

With Agarkar and Tare looking determined to add to their 211-run stand for the seventh wicket, there appears no early respite for an understandably frustrated host.

Defensive approach

Services was expecting to strike early after taking the second new ball after two overs on Thursday, but its defensive approach worked in Mumbai’s favour.

Instead of setting attacking fields, Services employed run-saving strategy, with just one slip in place for the pace bowlers.

To compound the woes, mediumpacer Suraj Yadav had to leave the field after bowling just four overs.

Part-timer Nakul Verma could not fill in the void. Tare and Agarkar displayed the kind of temperament Mumbai batsmen are known for.

Agarkar, whose previous best of 102 not out in 2009 had helped host Mumbai turn the tables on Himachal Pradesh, produced another responsible innings when the team really needed it.

Playing only his 68th innings in 56 matches, Agarkar looked in good touch and hit 14 boundaries.

Tare, who did not get to bat on debut against Orissa in 2009, has proved his worth in his comeback season. So far, he has scored 827 runs from 16 innings.

Tare’s 222 against Saurashtra last month showed he could bat long.

Here, the 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman showed he could bat under pressure and in challenging conditions, too.

Tare’s 16 boundaries showcased an array of strokes. Though strong on the off-side, Tare did not miss any opportunity to send the ball to the mid-wicket and square-leg boundaries.

Though his penchant for cuts stood out, Tare hit some lovely cover-drives off the mediumpacers before getting to his century by guiding a yorker-length ball from Verma to the third-man fence.

The scores:

Mumbai — 1st innings: W. Jaffer c Sarabjit b Nishan 15, K. Pawar lbw b Yadav 3, H. Shah c Sarabjit b Yadav 0, S. Tendulkar c Verma b Sinha 56, A. Nayar c Yadav b Nazar 70, A. Tare (batting) 108, A. Chavan b Nazar 0, A. Agarkar (batting) 113; Extras (b-6, lb-4, nb-4, w-1): 15; Total (for six wkts. in 143 overs): 380.

Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-19, 3-23, 4-104, 5-169, 6-169.

Services bowling: Suraj Yadav 24-9-49-2, Nishan Singh 31-6-76-1, Shadab Nazar 39-11-104-2, Avishek Sinha 29-8-75-1, Yashpal Singh 5-0-23-0, Nakul Verma 9-1-33-0, Prateek Desai 5-2-6-0, Rajat Paliwal 1-0-4-0.

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