New Delhi: An upbeat Services will look to continue their winning momentum when they meet Kerala in their Ranji Trophy round five encounter starting at the Palam Ground from Saturday. After a sparkling win against Assam, Services will hope to add to their tally of 14 points from four matches and move further up the Group C table.
Riding on a good show by speedster Suraj Yadav (4 for 28), Services defeated Assam by ten wickets wickets after their most reliable batsman Rajat Paliwal scored 167 off 248 balls to set up the push for victory. Paliwal took charge after their most experienced batsman Yashpal Singh, who played a match-winning knock in the previous match against Assam, failed to deliver.
Shadab Nazar, who took match-winning figures of 6 for 50 against Assam, is currently 12th in the wicket-takers’ tally and will be leading Services’ pace attack once again.
In the third game, Services were able to take three points by virtue of first-innings lead with Yashpal having scored an unbeaten 250 off 361. The 31-year-old is currently eighth in the most runs tally with 397, above Paliwal who is tenth with 395 runs from four matches. Though he failed to deliver against Assam, a good knock will be expected from the experienced batsman on the same venue. Apart from Yashpal, rookie Anshul Gupta has also put up strong performances in the middle order.
On the other hand, Kerala played a draw against Goa in their last Group C encounter. After scoring a massive 512 for 8 declared in their first innings, Goa bundled out Kerala for a mere 297 and then enforced the follow-on on the hosts. Kerala ended their second innings at 120 for 4 when stumps were drawn on the fourth day.
With the likes of VA Jagadeesh, Rohan Prem and Robert Fernandez, their batting is capable enough to give a fightback but the bowling is the major concern. Against Goa, the bowlers gave away runs to gifted Goa the advantage of taking the first-innings lead. Except for Chovvakkaran Shahid, who took 4 for 149, none of the other bowlers lived up to expectations.
Kerala have played three games so far in the tournament and are on seventh in the tally with three points and need to start winning in order to qualify for the knock-outs.
Services: 1 Pratik Desai, 2 Soomik Chatarjee (capt), 3 Ansuhl Gupta, 4 Yashpal Singh, 5 Soumya Swain, 6 Rajat Paliwal, 7 Sarabjit Singh (wk), 8 Muzzaffaruddin Khalid, 9 Suraj Yadav, 10 Shadab Nazar, 11 Nishan Singh.
Kerala: 1 Abhishek Hegde, 2 VA Jagadeesh, 3 Perumparambath Anthaf, 4 Rohan Prem, 5 Sanju Samson, 6 Robert Fernandez, 7 Sachin Baby, 8 Akshay Kodoth (wk), 9 Sony Cheruvathur (capt), 10 Chovvakkaran Shahid, 11 Sandeep Warrier