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    Ranji Trophy: Services beat J&K to put one foot in quarter-finals

    Palam, New Delhi: Services took several steps closer to the quarter-finals after they beat Jammu and Kashmir by five wickets in a Group C Ranji Trophy encounter here at the Air Force Sports Complex. Needing 63 more on day four, the hosts, in pursuit of 134, took less than 22 overs on Tuesday to get over the line.In a very important chase, Yashpal Singh rose to the occasion with a brilliant 61. Yashpal, who has scored more than 700 runs this season, and Rajat Paliwal, who scored a match-defining 120 in the first innings, gave no chance to the opposition bowlers this morning. Seasoned middle order batsman Yashpal completed his fifth fifty this season before Wasim Raza Paray had him stumped for 61 as the batsman tried to go for the kill. Yashpal enthralled everyone as he hit the only six of the match dancing down the wicket and smashing spinner Parvej Rasool Zargar over mid-on. By the time Yashpal was rid of, he had put Services on the verge of victory with only six runs needed. Yashpal and Paliwal added 71 runs for the fifth wicket on a pitch that was supportive to fast bowlers all through. Paliwal, who got Man of the Match award, remained unbeaten on 47 and finished off the match in style with a boundary.Rajat’s partnership with wicketkeeper Sarabjit Singh Lalotra (40) in the first innings very much influenced the outcome of the match. Both added 138 runs for the seventh wicket under gloomy and nippy conditions to rescue their team from 39 for 6. Services bowlers Suraj Yadav and Nishan Singh too played their parts in the win. Both took eight wickets each. It was predominantly their efforts that restricted J&K to 85 and 269. Nishan five-for in the second innings ensured that J&K didn’t get too much in the second innings.There were a few positives for J&K but the biggest of them all was the all-round performance of Ramdayal Punia, who took seven wickets in all and made a solid fighting fifty for his team in the second innings. Iandev Singh and Manik Gupta also impressed with their fifties in the second innings.This was Services’ second outright win this season, and with five draws and 26 points they have put one foot in the quarter-finals. They next play Jharkhand here on December 29 and three points there would confirm their qualification. They can also advance in case of a loss but then they need other results in the group going their way. This was a third defeat for J&K in six matches and now they will have to win their remaining two matches to have a chance for the last-8.