Having taken a huge first innings lead, defending champions Karnataka are on course for an outright victory over Tamil Nadu after reducing them to 113 for 3 in their second essay on Day 4 of the Ranji Trophy final, at the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai, on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Karnataka posted a massive 762 in their first innings in reply to Tamil Nadu’s paltry 134.
At stumps on the penultimate day, Tamil Nadu were struggling in their second innings, still 515 runs behind with seven wickets remaining.
Now even if the match ends in a draw, which is one of the only two possible outcomes, Karnataka will retain the crown.
Resuming at the overnight score of 618 for 7 on Wednesday morning, Karnataka added 144 more runs to their total.
Batting since post-tea on the opening day, Karnataka piled on runs as their innings lasted 1044 minutes.
The defending champions lost triple centurion Karun Nair (328) in the first session on Wednesday but skipper R Vinay Kumar (105) slammed his second Ranji century to guide the team to a mammoth 762.
Vinay, who resumed on 41, batted patiently during his 319-ball innings and struck 10 fours and three sixes.
Incidentally, he became the first captain to score a ton in a Ranji final, besides becoming only the second player after Vijay Hazare to hit a century and take five wickets in the tournament’s final.
Nair, who was batting since Day 1, although made a brilliant 328, couldn't surpass his teammate K L Rahul's 337 and become the highest run-scorer for Karnataka.
His marathon 14-and-a-half hour knock came to an end 57 minutes into the day when he was trapped leg before by Vijay Shankar.
The 23-year-old added 18 runs to his overnight score and became the highest scorer in a Ranji final, going past Baroda batsman Gul Mohammad's 319 against Holkar in 1946-47.
His record came off the second delivery of the fifth over when he flicked Laxmipathy Balaji's delivery behind square.
The triple centurion's 872-minute stay at the crease yielded 46 fours and a six while sharing a 142-run partnership with Vinay Kumar for the eighth wicket.
He became the third player to score a triple ton in a Ranji match at the Wankhede after Sanjay Manjrekar's 377 against Hyderabad in 1990-91 and Sunil Gavaskar's 340 against Bengal in 1981-82.
After the departure of Nair, Vinay Kumar batted with Shreenath Aravind and added 83 runs for the ninth wicket.
Adding to Tamil Nadu's misery, Aravind compiled his first half century before being caught at backward short leg off Aswin Crist. His 54-ball knock was laced with nine fours.
With lunch being extended by half an hour, Vinay Kumar batted patiently with last man H S Sharath to ensure that the holders finished the first session at 748 for nine.
However, 14 minutes after lunch it was all over for Karnataka when offie Malolan Rangarajan lured Sharath out of his crease with Baba Indrajith, who had taken over ‘keeping duty from Dinesh Karthik, responded with a quick stumping.
Balaji and Rangarajan finished with three wickets each, giving away 120 and 183 runs, respectively.
Aswin Crist claimed two wickets for 140, while Prasanth Parameswaran and Vijay Shankar one each.
Tamil Nadu's second innings started on a disastrous note, as they lost skipper Abhinav Mukund (13) with just 30 runs on the board.
Vinay Kumar, who is the second leading wicket taker this Ranji season so far, trapped the other opener, Murali Vijay, leg before eight overs later, reducing them to 47 for two.
With twins Aparajith and Indrajith at the crease, Tamil Nadu needed them to see off the day, but Indrajith threw his wicket away after hitting a couple of strokes.
He smashed Shreyas Gopal for a six and followed it up with a four, but departed the next ball after getting caught at the slips.
At the draw of stumps, Aparajith and Vijay Shankar were batting on 36 and 15 respectively.