Yusuf six-for keeps Baroda in contest
Baroda 162 and 73 for 1 (Mistry 29*, Waghmode 19*) lead Tamil Nadu 233 (Karthik 92, Yusuf 6-84) by 2 runs
On an increasingly wearing pitch, Baroda and Tamil Nadu were assisted by excellent showings from either side's most experienced player. Dinesh Karthik was a study in conviction for his 92, while Baroda's captain Yusuf Pathan was rewarded for his discipline with his fifth first-class five-for. The visitors' top-order exhibited better intent in the second innings to edge ahead by two runs by the time bad light ended the extended final session prematurely.
Overnight rain enforced a delayed start but Tamil Nadu's hopes of an outright win were bolstered as Karthik and B Indrajith enjoyed the first half-century partnership of the match. Decisive footwork aided their efforts to keep the score moving, and subsequently keep the spinners at bay.
Karthik was especially potent when he left the crease, lofting Ketul Patel over his head in his very first over. A particularly pleasing drive over mid-off's head just before lunch exemplified his comfort against the spinners, but he was lured into such aggression because Tamil Nadu lost two crucial wickets.
Indrajith, whose soft hands and late strokeplay had kept him in good stead for 38, saw one roll back from his bat and onto his stumps. R Prasanna's ambition got the better of him as he looked to pull a length ball and was out leg before. Tamil Nadu's longish tail was exposed as soon as they had taken the lead.
Yusuf looked the most threatening of Baroda's three spinners, and his success was brought about through a combination of persistence, luck and inept batting by the lower order. Malolan Rangarajan had an ill-timed rush of blood and was caught off a leading edge to end a promising 39-run stand with Karthik. Only the over previously had Karthik slammed a six and a four off consecutive balls.
An iffy lbw decision denied Karthik a 19th first-class century, and second on the trot. Yusuf elicited some quick turn to surprise the batsman as he moved onto the back foot, but the ball had struck the pads quite high. The rest of the batting could not muster much fight as Yusuf pocketed 6 for 84.
Baroda endured a testing few overs before tea where the ball had begun a disturbing trend of keeping low. It continued after the break when Karthik committed his fist mistake of the day as he rose too quickly behind the stumps and could not cling on to an outside edge from opener Dhiren Mistry. The 22-year-old, who top-scored in Baroda's first innings, exuded the same solidity while at the crease and was given good company by Aditya Waghmode as they took Baroda to 73 for 1 when play was called off.
Baroda's only blemish was the running between the wickets, which accounted for Saurabh Wakaskar, who was found short of his ground after Mistry called him through for a single to point.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo