New Delhi: 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.
Desai should blame himself as he blocked anything and everything during his painstaking stay at the wicket which yielded just four runs off 50 balls. In the end, he yorked himself after misjudging a flighted delivery from Chavan.
Services were crawling at 22 for two after 16 overs. Anshul, who had played age-group cricket for Delhi, played and missed a few and was lucky to get a few boundaries as he added 50 runs in the company of skipper Swain in 15 overs.
Having scored 31, Anshul prodded at a fuller length delivery from medium pacer Shardul Thakur, which was snapped by Kaustubh Pawar who was fielding at second slip. Anshul hit five boundaries in 74 balls. After that Swain and Yashpal saw off the remaining overs without any hassle.
Earlier, with two and half days of play wasted due to rain and subsequent damage that it had caused to the 22-yard strip, Mumbai were forced to change their gameplan as Agarkar scored runs at fair clip with the visitors getting 74 runs in nine overs before declaring their innings.
Agarkar, starting on 113, was finally dismissed for 145 that was scored with the help of 17 fours and a six. While Aditya Tare was gone for 120, tail-ender Dhawal Kulkarni smashed 20 off 12 balls to up the ante.
Brief Scores: Mumbai 454/8 decl (Ajit Agarkar 145, Aditya Tare 120, Shadab Nazar 3/142).
Services 164/3 (S R Swain 63 batting, Yashpal Singh 43 batting, D Kulkarni 1/18).
First Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013, 18:32