Delhi: Group C leaders Assam will look to get back to their winning ways when they meet Services in their Ranji Trophy round four encounter starting at the Palam Ground from Saturday. After two outright wins against Tripura and Jharkhand, Assam were held for a draw by Kerala but still lead Group C with 16 points. Services are fifth in the group standings with seven points from three drawn games.
Riding on the good form of slow bowlers Arlen Konwar and J Syed Mohammad, Assam defeated Jharkhand by 53 runs in round two after captain Dheeraj Jadav’s 243 had given them a winning start to the campaign against Tripura by 10 wickets. In the third game, Assam were able to take three points by virtue of first innings lead with Konwar returning with his second fiver-for of the season. The 31-year-old offspinner is currently second in the wickets tally with 20 scalps behind Jharkhand captain Shabaz Nadeem.
Mohammad, playing his debut first-class season, has also been instrumental in Assam’s success with 13 wickets in three games. It was his late burst of three wickets that helped end Tripura’s rearguard resistance giving Assam an easy total of 62 to chase for a win in the first game. Against Jharkhand, the duo of Konwar and Mohammed accounted for 17 of the total 20 opposition wickets to fall with Konwal returning with figures of 6 for 67 and Mohammed a five-for.
Services, on the other hand, have had an indifferent campaign so far with three drawn matches, taking three points in their season opener against Andhra and then conceding the first innings lead against Himachal Pradesh. Services stalwart Yashpal Singh scored a double-century in the third game against Tripura as they picked up three points. Lying in fifth place, a win would boost Services’ chances of making it to the knockout stages but against the upbeat table-toppers Assam, their work will be cut out.
Apart from Yashpal, rookie Ansuhl Gupta and Rajat Paliwal have put up strong performances in the middle-order getting a century and two fifties each in the three games and look to be in good form. Services bowling attack so far has struggled barring Shadab Nazar’s 6 for 108 against Tripura.
This would be Services’ first home game of the season and with the Palam Ground being re-laid this year, both Assam and the home team might be in for a surprise.
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.
Assam: 1 Pallavkumar Das, 2 Dheeraj Jadhav (capt), 3 Amit Sinha, 4 Hokaito Zhimomi, 5 Gokul Sharma, 6 Tarjinder Singh, 7 J Syed Mohammad, 8 Rajdeep Das (wk), 9 Abu Nechim, 10 Arup Das, 11 Arlen Konwar.