Mumbai 44 and 277 for 6 (Tare 98, Iyer 50, Mithun 3-49) need 168 to beat Karnataka 202 and 286

Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar's burst with the second new ball after fifties from Aditya Tare and Shreyas Iyer left Karnataka on the brink of their second successive Ranji Trophy final.

At the end of the third day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Mumbai were 277 for 6, 168 runs adrift of their target of 445, with Siddhesh Lad and Abhishek Nayar, who walked in to bat at No. 8 against medical advice, at the crease.

Vinay and Mithun came hard at Aditya Tare and Akhil Herwadkar, but they survived the initial burst. Herwadkar was fortunate to survive a leg-before shout off Mithun in the fourth over of the day when he tried to play across the line and missed the ball. He wasn't so fortunate in Mithun's next over, when he was lbw playing the same shot, just as he had been in the first innings.

Four balls later, Robin Uthappa, keeping wicket in the absence of the injured CM Gautam, dropped a regulation catch to reprieve Shreyas Iyer. The usually aggressive Iyer gave respect to the seamers early on and made the most of his life. Once he got off the mark with a full-blooded cover drive off Mithun off the 15th ball he faced, Iyer started to score freely.

Tare was as comfortable at the crease as he has been all along since taking over captaincy. He punished anything that was pitched slightly full or wide and his fifty came up with a streaky boundary through the slip cordon.

With boundaries flowing from both ends, Mumbai had raced past 150. Iyer then threw his wicket away right after reaching his half-century. Mithun, brought on for a second spell, banged his first ball in wide outside off. Iyer tried to pull and the miscued stroke lobbed to substitute J Suchith at midwicket.

Suryakumar Yadav joined Tare and played out the half an hour that remained in the first session, scoring only a single off the first 34 balls he faced. He continued to block post-lunch, and Tare also slowed down. With the strike not rotating, Mithun, Vinay and S Aravind bowled within the stumps and got the old ball to reverse. Suryakumar struck his first boundary off his 68th ball, a backfoot punch off Vinay. In the first hour after lunch, the pair added just 28 runs.

In the last over before the drinks, needing only two runs for his century, Tare poked at an away-going ball from Aravind and Uthappa held the edge this time.

Suryakumar then began manufacturing strokes, with a flick through midwicket off Aravind, the shot of the day. But his innings flickered only till Vinay took the new ball 20 minutes before tea.

Mithun struck in the second over with the new ball. He hit a crack on a good length and the ball rose sharply to leave Suryakumar, who could only glove it to Uthappa. In the next over, Nikhil Patil gave Kunal Kapoor catching practice at short midwicket, leaving Mumbai at 237 for five.

Wilkin Mota hung around for a while alongside Siddhesh Lad, before he failed to read a Shreyas Gopal googly and saw the ball crash into the stumps off his inside edge. With 12 overs remaining, Abhishek Nayar walked in, much to everybody's surprise, with the target still 177 runs away. Nayar had spent 24 hours in hospital after falling awkwardly on his head on the opening day. Nayar seemed a little disoriented at the start of his innings, but he hung on with Lad for the 51 minutes that remained till stumps.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo