Skipper Soumya Ranjan Swain and seasoned campaigner Yashpal Singh lifted Services from 72 for three to 164 without further loss to give Mumbai a sleepless night in their Ranji Trophy semifinal encounter at the Palam ground here.
After two days were lost to rain and wet pitch conditions, action returned to the middle following a delay of 135 minutes on Sunday afternoon, Mumbai resumed its first innings at 380 for six and applied closure at 454 for eight. In just nine overs, Mumbai hit up 74 runs for the loss of centurions, Ajit Agarkar and Aditya Tare.
At close, Services was riding on an unfinished fourth-wicket stand of 92 runs, with Swain looking to build on his 64, including seven boundaries — one more than what Yashpal struck in his 43.
With the first innings lead undecided after five days, the match will go into the sixth day on Monday. With further loss of play due to rain or bad light not ruled out, Mumbai will be desperate to get the remaining wickets as Services needs another 291 runs for the lead.
Mumbai is expected to give it all to gain the first innings lead instead of depending on a favourable spin of coin to make the final against Saurashtra. Services, unlikely to force the pace and risk being bowled out, would not mind testing its luck with the toss, if needed.
Mumbai hopes rose after a surprisingly passive start by the Services openers.
Pleased to bowl seven successive maiden overs, Mumbai finally tasted success when Dhawal Kulkarni trapped Nakul Verma in front. Before long, Prateek Desai fell to left-arm spinner Ankit Chavan. Swain, leading the team for the first time, joined Anshul Gupta and immediately made an impression.
The left-hander played his natural game and did not let the bowlers call the shots. He rotated the strike well without missing opportunities to cut and pull the short deliveries in the early part of the innings. After the third-wicket stand was worth 50 runs, Gupta offered a low regulation-catch in the slip cordon to leave Services worried.
But Yashpal’s assuring presence in the middle produced the phase of the Services innings. If Swain’s stroke-selection stood out on this day, it was Yashpal’s positive intent and the willingness to play his strokes rattled Mumbai.
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 c Sarabjit b Nazar 120, A. Chavan b Nazar 0, A. Agarkar c (sub) Mohd. Khalid b Sinha 145, D. Kulkarni (not out) 20, S. Thakur (not out) 10, Extras (b-6, lb-4, nb-4, w-1) 15, Total (for eight wickets decl. 152 overs) 454.
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-19, 3-23, 4-104, 5-169, 6-169, 7-415, 8-435.
Services bowling: Suraj Yadav 24-9-49-2, Nishan Singh 32-6-76-1, Shadab Nazar 44-11-142-3, Avishek Sinha 32-8-98-2, Yashpal Singh 5-0-23-0, Nakul Verma 9-1-33-0, Prateek Desai 5-2-6-0, Rajat Paliwal 1-0-4-0.
Services-1st innings: N. Verma lbw b Kulkarni 13, P. Desai b Chavan 4, A. Gupta c Pawar b Thakur 31, S. Swain (batting) 64, Yashpal Singh (batting) 43, Extras (b-4, lb-2, nb-2, w-1) 9, Total (for three wickets in 57 overs) 164.
Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-22, 3-72.
Mumbai bowling: Ajit Agarkar 8-3-29-0, Dhawal Kulkarni 11-4-18-1, Vishal Dabholkar 11-1-33-0, Ankit Chavan 12-4-33-1, Shardul Thakur 11-0-35-1, Abhishek Nayar 4-0-10-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy