Subramanium Badrinath drew on all his experience at the domestic level to enable Tamil Nadu score 190 for 3 at stumps on the penultimate day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur [ Images ] on Wednesday.
Rajasthan [ Images ] put up a mammoth 552 for 7 before declaring their innings.
As of now, the game hangs in the balance, with Tamil Nadu having a slight edge over the hosts.
Rajasthan scored their 552 runs in 190 overs at a run-rate of 2.90.
Tamil Nadu have till now maintained a run-rate of 2.75 in the 69 overs they batted.
If the full quota of 90 overs of play is possible on Thursday and Rajasthan fail to bowl out the visitors, then Dinesh Karthik's [ Images ] boys will need to score another 273 runs.
That will take their total to 463 in 159 overs and their run-rate will be 2.91, which will be better than Rajasthan's.
If Tamil Nadu want to win straight on the first-innings lead, they require another 363 runs, which is difficult, though not impossible, even though the track is still good for batting.
The highlight of Rajasthan's innings was young Ashok Menaria's second ton (106, 189 balls, 11x4, 2x6) in as many matches, while skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar scored his 30th hundred in first-class cricket. The moment former the India [ Images ] player reached the three-figure mark, the hosts decided to declare their innings.
For Tamil Nadu, Badrinath, who is unbeaten on 78 (184 balls, 10x4) was involved in two useful partnerships. First, one of 75 runs for the second wicket with Abhinav Mukund (47, 99 balls, 8x4) and then another 51 runs for the unbeaten fourth-wicket stand with K Vasudevdas (22 batting).
The Rajasthan bowlers toiled for wickets. Find of the season Deepak Chahar angled one into opener K B Arun Kartik (7), who played on, his leg stump going for a toss.
Mukund and Badrinath then played with lot of composure. They ran well between the wickets and punished the loose deliveries. Finally, it was Pankaj Singh who dismissed Mukund leg before wicket.
Mukund became Pankaj's 40th victim of the season and he now jointly leads the wicket-takers' list along with Baroda left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik (28, 60 balls, 5x4) was scratchy to begin with. He never looked in his element before he was trapped in front by leggie Vivek Yadav.
It will all depend on how Badrinath plays on Thursday and the support he gets from batsmen like Vasudevdas, Rajagopal Sathish and C Ganapathy.
Rajasthan (1st innings): 552/7 in 190 overs (A Chopra 139, A Menaria 106, H Kanitkar 100 not out, V Saxena 72, C Ganapathy 2/73, S Sam 2/96).
Tamil Nadu (1st innings): 190/3 in 69 overs (S Badrinath 78 batting, A Mukund 47, D Karthik 28, V Yadav 1/37, P Singh 1/45, D Chahar 1/51).