Maharashtra opener Deepak Jadhav's fine double hundred and a maiden century by Kaushik Aphale put the four-day Ranji Trophy Plate division cricket match against Orissa on the razor's edge on the third day at the Barabati stadium in Cuttack on Wednesday.
The duo shared a magnificent 204-run partnership for the third wicket, pulling Maharashtra out of the rut it had slipped into after getting bowled out for 77 in the first innings.
The 342-minute partnership virtually put the home bowlers on the mat as Maharashtra declared their innings closed at 439 for eight, setting Orissa a challenging 313-run target to win the match on the fourth day.
At close, Orissa were 14 without loss with openers BBCC Mohapatra and Subrat Behera batting on 11 and three respectively.
The hosts would have to carefully negotiate the morning session of play tomorrow before going for the target.
The Orissa bowlers, who hoped to rattle the visitors this morning, were sadly disappointed as Jadhav and Aphale batted brilliantly to score runs all round the wicket.
Jadhav, who remained not out on 200 when the declaration came, batted for 635 minutes and hit 17 fours and a six. He added 54 runs for the fourth wicket with Ranjit Khirid (24) after which wickets fell at regular intervals.
Aphale, who was batting on 17 last evening, prospered in Jadhav's company and reached his maiden century -- exactly 100 -- in 337 minutes before being trapped lbw by Orissa skipper and off-spinner Sanjay Raul.
For Orissa, left arm spinner Srikanta Jena (3 for 94) and Raul (2 for 67) were the successful bowlers.
Goa need 250 to win
Career-best bowling by spinner Shadab Jakati (6 for 42) helped Goa restrict Services's second innings to 179 on the penultimate day of the four-day Plate `B' Ranji Trophy cricket match at the Panjim Gymkhana in Goa on Wednesday.
Resuming their overnight total of 15 for one, Services looked set for a big total after taking a 70-run first innings lead, with P M S Reddy (55) and Jasbir Singh (42) taking the total to 97 for 1 at lunch.
But soon after lunch, Jakati got the breakthrough as he had both the overnight batsmen, Reddy and Jasbir Singh, out with successive balls to have Services tottering on 100 for 3.
Thereafter, wickets fell at regular interval. Sanjay Misra, who offered some resistance, remained 22 not out while the rest of the batsmen fell to the guile of spinner Jakati, who claimed more than five wickets for the third time.
Avinash Aware, who claimed the wickets of Krishna Chawda (5), Arun Sharma (9) and Fazal Mohammed (0), gave good support to Jakati at the other end.
In reply, Goa who conceeded a 70-run lead in the first innings, were 16 for no loss in 11 overs when stumps were drawn.
Vivek Kolambkar (11) and Swapnil Asnodkar (4) were unbeaten at the crease.
Goa need 234 runs to win with all wickets standing on the last day.
Vidarbha gain 60-run lead over Madhya Pradesh
Vidarbha gained a vital lead of 60 runs over Madhya Pradesh on the third day of the four-day Ranji Trophy Plate group match in Indore on Wednesday, after the hosts were bowled out for 327 in their first innings.
Resuming at their overnight score of 151 for the loss of three wickets, Devendra Bundela put on 78 runs for the fourth wicket with Abbas Ali to give MP a good start today.
Bundela scored 85 runs, with nine boundaries and a six, while Ali scored 44 runs, with seven boundaries, to take Madhya Pradesh to 205 in 58.2 overs.
However, in the 58th over, Vidarbha got the much-needed break when Ali was caught by Sandeep Singh off CS Atram.
Later, Nikhil Patwardhan (17) was trapped lbw by Madhusudan Acharya. The prized wicket of Bundela was taken by Atram, when he was caught by Ranjit Paradkar.
The other MP tailenders did not contribute much and as the team was all out for 327 runs, giving Vidarbha a crucial lead of 60 runs.
For Vidarbha, Acharya took four wickets.
Later, openers Amit Deshpande (18) and Praveen Londhase (6) took Vidarbha to 29 for no loss at stumps.
Tirtha Roy hits century for Tripura
Opener Tirtha Roy hit a fine unbeaten century as Tripura scored 216 for 3 at close on the third day, in reply to Haryana's 461 for 6 declared in a Plate Group 'A' Ranji Trophy match in Rohtak on Wednesday.
Roy's century and his 127-run partnership with Sandeep Dahad (55) were the highlights of the penultimate day's play as the Haryana bowlers toiled hard to take wickets.
The visitors now need 95 runs more to avoid the follow-on.
For Haryana, Gaurav Vashistha, S Virmani and P Sahu claimed one wicket each.
Saurashtra gain upper hand against Himachal
Saurashtra forced Himachal Pradesh on the back foot by reducing the visitors to 171 for four at stumps on the third day of the four-day Ranji Trophy Plate 'B' match in Rajkot on Wednesday.
After taking a first innings lead of 95, Saurashtra, who made 309 in their first essay, are now inching towards an outright win.
For Himachal, Sandip Sharma made a solid 96 and added 76 runs for the third wicket with Sangram Singh (20) after the home bowlers dismissed Nishal Gaur (13) and M Bisla (0) cheaply.
At stumps, V Sharma was batting on 24 with three fours and Ajay Mannu on 9.
For the hosts, A Merchant took two for 15, while S Jobanputra and J Shah picked a wicket each.
Himachal Pradesh are now 76 runs ahead with six wickets still standing.
Earlier, Saurashtra, resuming at their overnight 232 for five, added 77 runs to their total with R Dhruv making 39.
V Bhatia returned with impressive figures of five for 93 while A Thakur took three for 88.