New Delhi: Services bowlers put up a disciplined and fine bowling effort to restrict the formidable Mumbai side to 199 for 6 on day one of the Ranji Trophy semi-final clash despite half-centuries from Sachin Tendulkar and Abhishek Nayar.
Mumbai skipper Ajit Agarkar won the toss and opted to bat on a seaming track. Kaustub Pawar was scratchy and got beaten outside the off stump a couple of times. Wasim Jaffer played a couple of lovely shots to fetch boundaries but both the openers departed in quick succession. Pawar was trapped in front of the wickets by Suraj Yadav as he played back to the delivery which angled in and kept low. Jaffer was caught behind off Nishan Singh in the next over to a ball which nipped away off the surface. He scored 18 runs.
Hiken Shah couldn't open his account and fell to S Yadav who got the ball to swing away and Shah knicked it to the wicketkeeper Sarabjit Singh. At 23 for 3, Mumbai were in a spot of bother but a fine 81-run partnership between Tendulkar and Nayar bailed them out. Tendulkar was fluent from the word go and cracked a string of splendid boundaries; a stirring cut off Nishan Singh through gully and a sumptuous straight drive off S Yadav. Nayar was obdurate and held the one end doggedly. The ball jagged around in the first session and the bounce was uneven. Tendulkar was struck on hand by N Singh five minutes prior to lunch. At lunch, Mumbai were 42 for 3 in 24 overs.
The pitch eased out in the post-lunch session and Tendulkar continued to flourish. In the 27th over, he unfurled three boundaries off N Singh; a flick to the deep square leg boundary and a gorgeous cover drive. Nayar, who made just 2 runs off first 43 balls, too opened up and whipped Nishan to square leg to get his first boundary. Tendulkar completed his half-century in the 33rd over by picking a single off Nishan. In the next over, he tonked the left-arm spinner Avishek Sinha for a six over long on but was holed out in the same over at mid on trying to emulate the similar shot. He made 56 off 75 balls and blasted 10 boundaries and one six.
Nayar took up the baton after Tendulkar's dismissal and pinched singles and doubles with appreciable finesse. Wicketkeeper Aditya Tare played the second fiddle and exhibited solid defense. Nayar played some fine strokes and racked up boundaries through square leg, midwicket and long on. He reached his fifty in the 53rd over off 125 balls. At tea, the visitors were 163 for 4.
After tea, Shadab Nazar jolted Mumbai with a twin strike as he removed Nayar and Ankeet Chavan in the same over. Nayar went for an expensive drive but got an edge and was caught at first slip for 70 which came off 160 balls. Chavan was castled for a duck. Tare and Agarkar didn't let Services bowlers take anymore wickets and were unbeaten at 26 and 17 when the day was called.
S Yadav and S Nazar were pick of the bowlers as both of them bagged two wickets each and exploited the seamer-friendly conditions to good effect.