Calcutta: Captain Yashpal Singh and 23-year-old Rajat Paliwal turned the match on its head, while last-man Abhisekh Sakuja hit a last-ball boundary to take Services to a thrilling one-wicket win over Vidarbha, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy pre-quarter final on Monday.
Vidarbha had won the toss and elected to bat at the Jadavpur University Campus ground, and notched up a decent total of 283 for 6 in their 50 overs. But Services managed to overhaul the target, scoring 286 for 9 in their quota of overs.
Services will now take on Jharkhand in a quarter-final encounter on Wednesday.
The match looked well within Vidarbha’s control as Services lost early wickets and at one point were at 29 for 3. But then Paliwal and Yashpal came together to stitch together a fourth-wicket stand of 195. That one partnership gave them the belief that they could take this match away from Vidarbha.
Vidarbha, however, regained hopes when spinner Ravi Jangid’s brilliant over — the 42nd of the innings — saw both Paliwal (112) and Yashpal (81) return to the pavilion.
Paliwal, by then, had scored his sixth first-class century. His 112 came off 99 balls, studded with 11 fours and a six.
Yaspal was the first to go, bowled by Jangid, while Paliwal followed three balls later, caught by Faiz Fazal. These were the only two wickets that Jangid took, giving away 43 runs in his eight overs.
With the score at 225 for 5, Services again lost four quick wickets, and the match looked to tilt back in Vidarbha’s favour.
With one ball left and two runs needed to win, Sakuja became the hero for his team, striking a last-ball four off Umesh Yadav to take Services to victory.
Earlier, batting first, Vidarbha rode an unbeaten 84 by captain Shalav Srivastava and 59 by Urvesh Patel to score 283 for 6. The captain’s brisk knock saw six fours and two sixes, and he kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and twos. The 89-ball-84 was the cornerstone of their innings.
With little help from the wicket, none of the Services bowlers looked menacing. Sakuja returned with two wickets to be their most successful bowler.
With Services coming out to bat, all eyes were on Umesh Yadav. The pacer, trying to make a comeback to the India squad, snapped up three for 55 in his 11 overs. But in the end, it was Services who had the last laugh.