Palam: It was meant to be a momentous day for Services, who were all set to celebrate their qualification to the knockout stages after eight years, but Jharkhand took the top honours, courtesy a rollicking 86-run knock from opener Rameez Nemat, on the final day in style racking up a big win over the hosts to become the second team from Group C to make it to the quarters along with Services.
The hosts, Services, with 26 points were sitting pretty at the top, but the visitors, with 18 points, needed a win to squeeze into the knockouts. The third team in the reckoning, Andhra - 21 points, were kept at bay by Kerala at Kadappa claiming just three points courtesy the first innings lead.
In chase of 218, Jharkhand had started off solidly ending day three on 35 for no loss as the openers got going in the same vain after lunch on day four. The whole of first session was washed out owing to foggy conditions. Openers Nemat and Aakash Verma went into ODI mode when play was resumed taking risky singles and rotating the strikes well. Nemat was full of confidence as he hit boundaries at will on either side of the pitch. By the 17th over, the duo had got to 69 for no loss and racked up their 100-run stand in just 23.2 overs. By the 26th over, the openers got to their fifties as the pitch eased out beautifully for batting. The conditions, that were very foggy and cloudy, all of a sudden changed as the sun came out brightly in the second session. The batsmen exploited the conditions as Services medium pacers were left scratching their heads amidst the openers onslaught.
When it looked like that Jharkhand would walk away from Palam with an outright win with a bonus point, medium pacer Nishan Singh gave Services their first breakthrough of the day in the 37th over, when the visitors' score reached 151 as he scalped Aakash Verma for 72. Verma went for a big heave over mid-on but failed to clear as Soumik Chaterjee took a simple catch. Rameez Nemat though continued to cut the ball with panache as he earned nine boundaries in his knock of 89 runs. When the Jharkhand score was 182, Nemat got out playing a widish delivery onto his stumps. That marked the end of the second session with Ishank Jaggi on 13* and Shiv Gautam on 0*.
After tea, the conditions swung the bowlers way and Singh dismissed Gautam leg before wicket in the second over after the break for just three runs. In the 49th over, Ishank Jaggi got a boundary through covers to bring up his team’s 200 as Ajatshatru too chipped in with a couple of boundaries as Jharkhand overhauled the target of 218 in 51.4 overs losing five wickets with Saourabh Tiwary hitting the winning runs lofting one over long-on four a boundary. Jharkhand got six points ending the league stages with 24 points from eight games becoming the second team from Group C to qualify for the quarter-finals with Andhra missing out. Andhra too have 24 points from eight games, but Jharkhand have posted three wins in the league stages as opposed to Andhra’s single win.