It was an unusually hot day at the KCA-St.Xavier's College ground on Friday and it seemed it would be a long day on the field for Services fielders when the overnight Andhra batters Ricky Bhui and Karan Shinde steadily moved closer to their personal milestones.
The duo had added 60 runs in the morning and looked comfortable in the middle against the Services medium pacers.
The fourth wicket partnership had crossed 200 and Andhra was in a formidable position at 337 for three.
But things turned around dramatically when Services captain Rajat Paliwal introduced his spinners. The ball bounced and zipped off the cracks. Karan Shinde, who was nearing his hundred, became a little edgy and he got a ball from Pulkit Narang which bounced a bit more than he anticipated. The ball took the edge and it was snapped up by wicketkeeper Devender Lohchab. Shinde's dismissal on 96 opened the floodgates as Andhra collapsed and lost the rest of its wickets for just 52 runs.
Exploiting the bounce on offer, Narang went on to take five more wickets and his best figures in first class cricket (6/56) put skids on Andhra's march in the Ranji Trophy Group E match. In reply, Services was 75 for two at Stumps with opener Ravi Chauhan holding fort with an unbeaten 37.
Captain Ricky Bhui (149), who played with remarkable restraint in the morning, top-edged a sweep off Narang and was caught by Lohchab running back. Narang trapped K.V. Sasikanth in front off the next ball as Andhra slumped further. Narang didn't allow the tail to wag as he dismissed Y. Sandeep, Prithvi Raj and Stephen cheaply.
Andhra medium-pacer Sasikanth and Stephen kept the Services openers quiet with their probing spells. Stephen broke through Anshul Gupta's defence with a ball that came in. Sasikanth then snared Rahul Singh with a short ball which the left-hander pulled straight to Rasheed at the square leg boundary. However, Ravi Chauhan (38 batting) and Hardik Sethi (11 batting) survived a testing period to add 27 runs for the third wicket.
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