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    Ranji Trophy, Round 7: Services close in on win against J&K

    Palam, New Delhi: Services took a big step towards an outright win when they reduced Jammu & Kashmir to 136 for 6 at stumps on day two of their Group C Ranji Trophy encounter here at the Air Force Sports Complex on Sunday. The hosts, who have 20 points off six matches with one win and five draws, will close in on the quarterfinals if they win this match. Services, after posting 221 thanks to Rajat Paliwal’s 120 earlier today, returned to wreak havoc on the visitors. Medium pacer Suraj Yadav, who took 4 for 25 in the first innings, was unplayable in the second innings as well, and he finished the day with figures of 4 for 39. Conceding a 136-run first innings lead, the visitors got off to a solid start with Ian Dev Singh and Adil Reshi playing with great care. However, when Yadav had Reshi caught by Yashpal Singh at second slip for 23, it all changed. Three runs later Hardeep Singh, who scored two, edged medium pacer Nishan Singh straight through to wicketkeeper Sarabjit Lalotra. Next man Parvej Zargar and Ian Dev then formed a 58-run stand to keep the tourists in the hunt. However, Yadav struck again with the wicket of Zargar for 21. And in the very next over, Nishan removed the in-form Ian Dev with a peach of an out-swinger rattling the stumps. Ian Dev was very impressive during his knock of 52 off 97 balls and it was his wicket that actually turned the tide in the hosts’ favour. Following Ian Dev’s departure, Services went for the kill and Yadav removed Obaid Haroon (0) and Bandeep Singh (1) in a twinkling. Both batsmen were trapped in front of the wickets. Manik Gupta and Ramdayal Punia thereafter batted with great care to wipe out the deficit just before the close of play triggered by bad light. Gupta was unbeaten on 22, while Punia was on nine.Earlier in the morning session, Paliwal struck his third ton this season to help Services gain a 136-run first innings lead. Resuming the day on 150 for 6, overnight batsmen Paliwal and Lalotra took the score to 177 when Reshi broke the 138-run partnership getting Lalotra caught behind for 40. With support dwindling at the other end, Paliwal hit top gear and hit some beautiful shots all around the wicket. He completed his ton in style with back-to-back fours off Punia. Punia avenged himself on the batsman though, trapping him lbw. Paliwal was the last batsman to go. Punia was the pick of the J&K bowlers with figures of 5 for 76.