Young right-hander Rajat Paliwal will hit the fourth and most important first-class century in his short career as it helped Services take a sizeable 129-run first innings lead against the formidable Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final on Monday.
The 21-year-old Paliwal, who had blisters on his big toe hammered the likes of India international Piyush Chawla as he struck 112 to help Services reach a score of 263 in reply to UP's paltry first innings score of 134.
The favourites however did a shade better in the second innings as they were 138 for four at stumps thereby taking a slender lead of nine runs.
Pacer Suraj Yadav (4/33) got all the wickets which included scalps of seasoned pros Tanmay Srivastava (55), Mohammed Kaif (33) and Parvinder Singh (0). Arish Alam (33 batting) needs to play a big innings if UP plans to make a match of it.
The day belonged to Paliwal who started from his overnight score of 36 and carried on gamely during his 133-ball-knock which included 16 boundaries and two huge sixes.
Apart from his 97-run sixth wicket stand with veteran keeper Sarabjit Singh (40, 5x4), the two other significant partnerships were for the seventh and eighth wicket which yielded 34 and 33 runs respectively. The first one was between Paliwal and Nishan Singh (4) and the second one between the centurion and Shadab Nazar (13).
When Paliwal was finally bowled by a Ankit Rajpoot yorker, he had more than done his job.
With skipper Soumik Chatterjee injured, he still came out to bat but lasted only a couple of deliveries but Services had by then done what they could have to the best of their abilities.
Brief Scores: UP 134 & 138/4 (Tanmay Srivastava 55, Mohd Kaif 33, Suraj Yadav 4/33). Services 263 (Rajat Paliwal 112, Sarabjit Singh 40).