Palakkad: Devender Israni and Tahir Khan, making their debut, hit their maiden centuries, but Services let the advantage slip as its finished the penultimate day at 325 for five (overnight 33 for one) against Kerala in the Ranji Trophy Plate league cricket match at the Fort Maidan here on Saturday.
It is said that catches win matches. But, the butter-fingered Kerala players dropped quite a few chances.
The left-handed Devender, who was let off thrice, scored 115 (238b, 16x4).
Devender was so motivated on putting on a big score that he pushed and plodded patiently at everything that came his way — and the runs came from both ends.
Meanwhile, Tahir (100, 183b, 18x4) batted like a man without fear. While his partnership with Devender swelled to the 150-mark, the limitations of the Kerala attack was getting steadily exposed.
After the duo raised 198 runs for the second wicket, former India spearhead Tinu Yohannan, in his second spell of the day, dismissed Tahir. The batsman essayed a wild heave, the ball brushed the bat, and wicketkeeper Vinan G. Nair took the catch comfortably.
Devender, Yashpal Singh and Sathish Upadhyay followed suit and that sparked trouble in Services’s camp.
However, Jasvir Singh (56 not out, 129b, 8x4) and Krushna Chavda played straight and safe to avoid any further embarrassment.
Services still requires another 242 runs for the first innings lead.
But with the pitch appearing tricky, it will be a daunting task for the visitor to make a match out of it on the final day.
“One wicket less and it would have been comfortable for us. Yashpal Singh’s (first match century-maker) dismissal was a real shocker. In fact, we applied the pressure in the initial stages, but now it is back on us. I expect the experienced Jasvir to bail us out,” Biju Nair, Services coach, said.
Kerala (1st innings): 566 for six decl.
Services (1st innings): S. Chatterjee b Yohannan 4, Tahir c Vinan b Yohannan 100, Devender c Vinan b Sreekumar Nair 115, Jasvir (batting) 56, Yashpal c & b Cheruvathur 9, S. Upadhyay b S. Anish 9, K. Chavda (batting) 8, Extras (b-1, lb-2, nb-12,w-9): 24; Total (five wkts., 102 overs) 325.
Fall of wickets: 1-9, 2-207, 3-267, 4-293, 5-306.
Kerala bowling: Yohanan 11-3-46-2, Chandran 11-1-49-0, Cheruvathur 28-6-89-1, P. Prasanth 8-0-23-0, S. Anish 29-10-62-1, V.A. Jagadeesh 4-1-10-0, Sreekumar Nair 11-0-43-1.