Mumbai struggles despite half-centuries from Tendulkar, Nayar

Services is busy gaining the respect of the opposition and the followers of Ranji Trophy alike.

Having gate-crashed into the semifinals of the National championship for the first time since 1965, Services has now made 39-time champion Mumbai struggle to live up to its reputation.

After a day of intense battle, Mumbai was somewhat embarrassingly placed at 199 for six in 78 overs.

Start delayed

Electing to bat after the start was delayed by 30 minutes due to a wet outfield, Mumbai slipped to 23 for three in conditions conducive to seam bowling.

Thereafter, the visiting team recovered to 169 for four with in-form Abhishek Nayar sharing two retrieving stands, first with Sachin Tendulkar and then with Aditya Tare.

But, two wickets in an over from medium-pacer Shadab Nazar brought Services back in the match before Mumbai added another 30 runs in the final hour.

All credit to the Services medium pacers for not letting Mumbai off the hook. Even though Tendulkar and Nayar, by turns, repaired Mumbai’s innings, the home team did not lose heart and stuck to its task.

Settling in

Tendulkar took time to gauge the pace and bounce of the pitch. His first scoring stroke was a boundary past gully off Nishan Singh and an indication that he was willing to punish the loose deliveries without being cautious for too long.

The next boundary to the extra-cover fence off Nazar was more assuring but the straight-drive off Suraj Yadav was a beauty.

Tendulkar hit another four off Nazar past point in a two-hour session that produced just 42 runs for three wickets in 24 overs.

Uncharacteristic start

All this while, Nayar kept Tendulkar’s company following an uncharacteristically sedate start, scoring just two runs off 42 deliveries before lunch.

The post-lunch session saw Tendulkar return with a more positive intent.

Successive boundaries past square-leg and cover off Nishan made the eager but small crowd ask for more.

Tendulkar soon turned his attention to Yadav and hit him for three boundaries in the space of four deliveries.

On reaching his 50 with a single, Tendulkar welcomed left-arm spinner Avishek Sinha with a straight six.

Off the next delivery, Tendulkar tried to repeat the stroke, miscued it, and holed out to a nervous Nakul Verma at mid-on.

Nayar, growing in confidence, also started playing his strokes. The left-hander, with a crouching stance, rose to the occasion with a responsible 70, inclusive of eight boundaries.

He was particularly severe with spinners Sinha and Yashpal Singh before Nazar had him caught at first slip.

The scores:

Mumbai — 1st innings: Wasim Jaffer c Sarabjit b Nishan 15, Kaustubh Pawar lbw b Yadav 3, Hiken Shah c Sarabjit b Yadav 0, Sachin Tendulkar c Verma b Sinha 56, Abhishek Nayar c Yadav b Nazar 70, Aditya Tare (batting) 26, Ankeet Chavan b Nazar 0, Ajit Agarkar (not out) 17, Extras (b-5, lb-3, nb-3, w-1) 12, Total (for six wickets in 78 overs) 199.

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

Services bowling: Suraj Yadav 20-8-42-2, Nishan Singh 20-4-53-1, Shadab Nazar 22-7-45-2, Avishek Sinha 12-3-33-1, Yashpal Singh 4-0-18-0.

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