NEW DELHI: Sachin Tendulkar sparkled before a sparse gathering at the Palam Cricket Ground, but Services ended the first day of the second Ranji Trophy semifinal in a position of advantage.
The unheralded home team struck crucial blows towards the beginning and end of play, leaving giants Mumbai struggling on 199/6 at close after they had elected to bat on a foggy morning. A delayed start and a premature conclusion allowed for just 78 overs to be bowled.
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An 81-run stand between Tendulkar (56) and Abhishek Nayar (70) restored a measure of control to the innings and it was one of the two partnerships of note on the day. Not too many made it to the nigh unknown venue on Wednesday. The few who did were treated to a rare rearguard by Tendulkar. The maestro walked in to loud cheers from a handful of faithful followers after openers Kaustubh Pawar and Wasim Jaffer had departed cheaply.
The match was delayed by 35 minutes due to foggy conditions. Medium Pacer Suraj Yadav began tidily and made the first inroad into Mumbai’s strong batting line-up when he trapped the Pawar (3) leg-before. The veteran Jaffer was out in the next over, having struck three crisp boundaries in the morning, when seamer Nishan Singh induced an outside edge that was gobbled up gratefully by wicket-keeper Sarabjit Singh.
Worse was in store for the visitors. Hiken Shah was caught behind off Yadav for a 12-ball duck, leaving the scene for Tendulkar and Nayar, who was remarkably staid in his approach. Tendulkar’s modus operandi was quite the opposite. He began with a diligent inspection of the pitch and soon after hit a rasping cover drive to the fence, following it with another confident drive off Yadav for the same result.
The maestro was struck a blow on the right hand by a screaming Nishan delivery – warranting a two-minute injury time-out – but he accelerated furiously after lunch. Boundaries flew off his bat in the second session as he raced to a half-century in 70 balls. Then came the first over of spin for the day, the only six and the big wicket. A hoick off left-arm spinner Avishek Sinha soared over long on for maximum benefit, but on the very next ball Tendulkar was caught at mid on trying to repeat the shot.
Nayar, meanwhile, had plodded to another fifty in 125 balls. He had needed over 40 deliveries to his first couple of runs, but eased up as the day wore on. Nayar pinged fours through mid wicket, third man and square leg, adding a patient 65 with the equally laborious Aditya Tare. But Shadab Nazar struck twice in quick succession in the last session to peg Mumbai back again.
The well-set Nayar snicked massively to Yadav at first slip. In the same over, southpaw Ankeet Chavan moved too far across and lost his leg stump, as Mumbai slipped to 169/6. Aditya Tare (26 batting) and skipper Agarkar (17 batting) took their team to close without further damage.
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MUMBAI - 1ST INNINGS
W Jaffer c †Sarabjit b Nishan 15
K Pawar lbw b Yadav 3
H Shah c †Sarabjit b Yadav 0
S Tendulkar c Verma b Sinha 56
A Nayar c Yadav b Nazar 70
A Tare not out 26
A Chavan b Nazar 0
A Agarkar* not out 17
Extras (b-5, lb-3, w-1, nb-3) 12
Total (6 wickets, 78 overs) 199
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-19 (Pawar, 8.1 OVERS), 2-19 (Jaffer, 9.2), 3-23 (Shah, 12.1), 4-104 (Tendulkar, 34.2), 5-169 (Nayar, 63.3), 6-169 (Chavan, 63.6).
BOWLING: Yadav 20-8-42-2; Nishan 20-4-53-1, Nazar 22-7-45-2, Sinha 12-3-33-1, Yashpal 4-0-18-0.