Services put up an all-round show to sail into the Vijay Hazare Trophy semifinals with a facile seven-wicket win over Kerala in Jaipur on Wednesday. Chasing a paltry 176, Services cantered home in 30.5 overs with opener Ravi Chauhan top-scoring with a 90-ball 95 (13x4, 3x6) and skipper Rajat Paliwal making an 86-ball 65 (8x4). (More Cricket News)
Paliwal won the toss and sent Kerala in as their bowling department led by seasoned medium-pacer Diwesh Pathania (8-2-19-3) rattled the Kerala top-order before bowling them out for a paltry 175 in 40.4 overs.
Later, Pulkit Narang (2/51), Abhishek Tiwari (2/33) and Rahul Singh (1/35) made their presence felt to polish off the tail. Services were also brilliant on the field and ran out Rohan Kunnummal -- the Kerala top-scorer -- for 85 to restrict them to a below-par total.
The 32-year-old Pathania struck twice in the seventh over when he dismissed Mohammed Azharuddeen (7) and Jalaj Saxena (0) in successive balls to give them a perfect start. It was Kerala's rookie opener Kunnummal (85 from 106 balls; 7x4, 2x6) who kept them on the track with a resolute half-century, reaching his second List A fifty in 77 balls.
Kerala No. 4 Vinoop Manoharan gave fine support with a brisk 41 off 54 balls laced with four boundaries and one six as the duo put together a fine 80-run partnership for the third wicket to repair the early damage.
Just when they were looking to build on their starts, off-spinner Pulkit Narang caught and bowled Vinoop Manoharan to break the partnership. Narang also dismissed Sachin Baby (12), while Rahul Singh grabbed the prized scalp of Sanju Samson (2 off 8 balls) cheaply to send half of their wickets back to the pavilion inside 31 overs.
A misjudgment cost Kunnummal dear as he failed to notch his maiden List A century, while Tiwari polished off the tail with his wickets off successive deliveries. Services had a jittery start when Lakhan Singh and Mumtaz Qadir got out in three deliveries in the second over to be on 12/2.
But it was a Chauhan show afterwards as he took the Kerala attack to the cleaners, smashing 13 fours and three sixes en route his fifth List A half-century in 47 balls. Skipper Paliwal, on the other hand, took it easy and rotated the strikes to give Chauhan the maximum strikes. Services will face Himachal Pradesh in the semifinals in Jaipur on Friday.
Brief Scores: Kerala 175; 40.4 overs (Rohan Kunnummal 85, Vinoop Manoharan 41; Diwesh Pathania 3/19, Abhishek Tiwari 2/33) lost to Services 176/3 in 30.5 overs (Ravi Chauhan 95, Rajat Paliwal 65 not out; Unnikrishnan Manukrishnan 2/23) by seven wickets.