Perfect soldier puts Services in the Ranji semis

Indore, Jan. 8 -- When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This phrase sums up the on-field heroics of Services skipper Soumik Chatterjee. Unable to walk because of a badly injured left knee, Soumik took guard with his team tottering on 54 for 5, chasing 113 against Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.

The pitch had plenty of juice and UP had a battery of fast bowlers, including Ankit Rajput who looked menacing as ever. Scoring the remaining 59 runs was a Herculean task.

But Soumik displayed amazing fortitude, taking the rampaging UP pacers to the cleaners on way to an unbeaten 46-ball 34 that took the Services to an amazing win. The spectators at the Holkar Stadium were awestruck as Soumik limped, hopped and dragged himself on one leg to complete the singles. In between, he smashed the bowlers for five boundaries and two sixes.

Finishing in style

He finished the match in style, hitting Ali Murtaza's flighted delivery over mid-on for a six. Exhilarated, Soumik uprooted the middle stump and let out a roar. "It was the team's decision to send an injured Soumik to bat at this crucial juncture. He has been a great finisher throughout his career and we had full faith in his fighting abilities," said Services manager, Deepak Bhaskar.

UP coach, Venkatesh Prasad, admitted the team had failured. "Barring a few individuals, we didn't perform like a team and our batting was a big letdown," said the former India bowler, adding, "Our batsmen didn't learn from their mistakes in the first innings and we kept repeating them in the second."

Barring Arish Alam and Eklavya Dwivedi, no other batsman could stand in the face of some disciplined bowling by Suraj Yadav, who finished with a career-best haul of 7/71.

Resuming at the overnight score of 33, Alam smashed three boundaries to complete his third half-century of the season, before being run out in a dramatic manner.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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