India Green 151 & 217 for 7 (Uthappa 72, Raina 42*, Kuldeep 5-55) need 280 runs to beat India Red 161 & 486 (Abhinav 169, Chatterjee 114, Gurkeerat 82, Gopal 5-123)
After seam bowlers and batsmen aced the pink-ball test on the first two days, it was the spinners' turn to join the party. Kuldeep Yadav not only turned up, but did a merry jig too, as he spliced through the heart of India Green's line-up to render an already tough chase of 497 all but impossible. His maiden first-class five-for reduced India Green to 217 for 7, still 280 runs adrift of the target, after India Red had galloped to 486 in the afternoon.
India Green were in a reasonable position at 184 for 4 before Kuldeep struck twice in the space of five overs to dismiss Saurabh Tiwary and Sandeep Sharma, leaving captain Suresh Raina as the sole recognised batsman going into day four. Kuldeep did not have everything going his way as he had to combat the dew - he admitted to finding it "very difficult" to grip the wet ball - and two ball changes which, according to Robin Uthappa, helped the batsmen as the ball came on to the bat quicker.
Kuldeep also played a useful hand with the bat, as his 49-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Anureet Singh supplemented Gurkeerat Singh's robust 82 off 96 balls. His performance also overshadowed fellow wristspinner Shreyas Gopal's skillful show, which had earned the latter five wickets.
While the eventual score might bear little trace of it, India Green's pursuit initially acquired a sturdy set of wheels as they soared to 52 for 0 in six overs. With Nathu Singh and Anureet unable to find swing or lateral movement, Uthappa and Jalaj Saxena made the right noises. While Uthappa scorched drives down the ground, Saxena got away with whips that saw his bat descending in a risky, angular arc.
India Red wrested some control through Ishwar Pandey, who operated on a run-drying line, and bowled Saxena as he attempted to guide a straight ball. It wasn't until the 15th over that Kuldeep was introduced, but all seemed well at that stage for India Green with Uthappa sustaining the initiative. Kuldeep, however, deceived Uthappa with a ball that went with the angle and the batsman edged it to first slip. Two balls later, Rajat Paliwal was lbw after he pre-empted a googly only to get a chinaman.
While Uthappa handled Kuldeep relatively easily, what was less noticeable was Parthiv Patel's struggles against the chinaman bowler - he managed only two runs of the 47 balls he faced from Kuldeep in both innings, and fell to the bowler on both occasions. In the 27th over, Parthiv hung back to a fast-ish googly that skidded on to catch him in front of the stumps; the previous ball, he had thrust out a diffident prod to another googly. Suresh Raina started off nervously against Kuldeep; at one point he was harried into swishing across the line with no feet movement. But, along with Tiwary, who had scored a fifty on the second day, Raina cobbled up a 54-run stand for the fifth wicket, only for Kuldeep to wreck the innings with his late blows.
That the pink ball retained its shine helped Kuldeep get the ball to skid on, although the fact that there were two instances of the ball losing shape - in the 19th and 32nd overs - might be a worrisome aspect.
In the afternoon, India Green might have reconciled to copping another round of brisk pummelling had rain not made its now-customary appearance. In a little over an hour, India Red had jogged along to 67 runs in 14.4 overs, although India Green had mitigated things somewhat by removing Abhinav Mukund and KB Arun Karthik.
It was after the early, rain-enforced tea break, however, that India Green, aided by Shreyas Gopal, looked like they were in control for the first time in the innings. With Sandeep Sharma and Ashok Dinda doing little to curb Gurkeerat Singh's scoring-rate, Raina turned to Shreyas, who showed his variations while cutting through the India Red middle order.
Gurkeerat had a jolly good run up to that point, camping in his crease, and either guiding or slashing the seamers behind square. Four overs into the second session, Shreyas sent down a delivery that would also define Kuldeep's performance later in the night: the ball veered in, dipped and turned away from Gurkeerat, who had lumbered forward and lost his balance as Parthiv quickly swiped the bails off. Not long after Shreyas had Akshay Wakhare lbw, but Anureet and Kuldeep frustrated India Green before the side was bowled for 486.