Ranji trophy: Services batsmen fight back after Mumbai score 454/8 decl

Mumbai bowlers came out hard with an aim to defeat the weather gods in their bid to enter the final of the Ranji Trophy for the 44th time, but the bravehearts from Services batted with a lot of purpose, taking the semi-final into the reserve sixth day.

After more than 250 overs had been lost due to inclement weather and damp pitch, Services reached 164 for three in reply to Mumbai's commendable 454 for eight declared in their first innings.

While Mumbai need another seven wickets, Services require 291 runs in order to reach the summit round provided there is another short spell of shower, which can again change the script.

With the sun beating down for two consecutive days, batting wasn't difficult on this track, barring a few deliveries from the left-arm spin duo of Ankeet Chavan and Vishal Dabholkar.

Skipper Soumya Ranjan Swain (63 batting) and Yashpal Singh (43 batting) added 92 runs for an unbroken fourth-wicket stand.

Left-hander Swain looked solid and so did their team's most well-known batsman, Yashpal Singh, who batted confidently during the last hour, despite a probing spell from rival captain Ajit Agarkar.

While Swain hit seven boundaries, the former KKR player Yashpal hit six.

With the hosts getting easy runs, the frustration of Mumbai players became evident when Sachin Tendulkar, fielding at mid-on, walked upto Yashpal and told him to hurry up as the batsmen was being attended by the team's physio.

At the beginning, Services openers Nakul Verma and Pratik Desai were so intent in blocking everything that it only increased the pressure on the batsmen who were to come later.

While Nakul hit two boundaries in the first over bowled by Agarkar, the two openers suddenly went off-boil after that.

Even medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni started to look menacing as he trapped Nakul leg-before in his his first spell that read 9-4-7-1.

... contd.

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