Sting in the tail

Ajit Agarkar and Aditya Tare struck centuries as Mumbai recovered from a poor first day to take control of their Ranji Trophy semifinal against Services. The pair added 185 runs in the 68 overs that were possible to take Mumbai from an overnight 199/6 to 380/6 at stumps. Agarkar was batting on 113, his first century in three seasons and the fourth of his first class career, while Tare was on 108 - his second century of the season. Their 7th wicket partnership currently stands at 211.

The day started with much promise for the home team. Mumbai were 199/6 on a slow pitch that made run-scoring difficult. Conditions were overcast and the new ball just two overs away. Things went wrong almost immediately, however, as Services strike bowler Suraj Yadav limped off the field with a twisted ankle after bowling just four overs. Suraj was not only Services' most successful bowler, he had also bowled the most overs for them this season. His loss not only depleted Services' wicket-taking potency severely, it also forced seamers Shadab Nazar and Nishan Singh to handle a bigger workload.

Agarkar and Tare watchfully saw off those two with the rain-curtailed first session yielding just 29 runs. Unlike Mumbai's top-scoring batsmen on Day One Sachin Tendulkar and Abhishek Nayar who had thrown their wickets away with rash strokes, Agarkar and Tare scarcely offered a chance. The runs came steadily once the two frontline pacers were seen off, with the back-up bowlers proving to be Services' weak link. Abhishek Sinha, who had dismissed Sachin on Wednesday, the left-arm spinner never looked like getting a breakthrough on Day Two. He was even reduced to bowling a negative line with nine fielders on the leg side and wicketkeeper Sarabjit keeping with one glove to try and sprint quickly to cut off any shots dropped into the off side. That wasn't to pay off, as Tare reverse-swept Sinha for four to take the team total to 300. Nakul Verma bowled brisk medium pace, but he and leg spinner Pratik Desai bowled pressure-release balls all too often.

Agarkar hit 14 boundaries and Tare 16, the latter getting to his hundred by guiding a full length delivery past the slips for four. Agarkar got to the landmark an over later with nudge off his pads. Services will need to fight back hard from here, for Mumbai's score is already the highest at the Palam ground this season.

Brief Scores: Mumbai 380 for six in 143 overs (Ajit Agarkar 113 batting, Aditya Tare 108 batting, Sachin Tendulkar 56, Abhishek Nayar 70).

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