Rest of India managed to eke out a slender 20-run first innings lead against Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka on the second day of the five-day Irani Cup match in Bengaluru on Wednesday to put the contest on a knife's edge.
A battling 78 (106b, 13x4s) by Maharashtra's Kedar Jadhav held the Rest of India innings together as the visitors recovered from 102/5 to 264 all out in response to Karnataka's 244.
In their second essay, the hosts were 39/0 at stumps with openers Ravikumar Samarth (21) and Mayank Agarwal (15) comfortably negotiating the final hour to give Karnataka a lead of 19 runs.
The cornerstone of the Rest innings was the sixth-wicket partnership of 80 runs between Jadhav and Jayant Yadav (26) while for Karnataka skipper Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal came away with three wickets apiece.
Karnataka struck some telling blows in the first session with Vinay Kumar dismissing opener Jiwanjot Singh (17) in the day's second over as the batsman edged an intended glance to wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa.
Thereafter, Rest of India lost wickets at regular intervals with batsmen getting starts but unable to build on them. Paras Dogra (26), given out leg-before despite a big inside edge, Naman Ojha (34) and skipper Manoj Tiwary (14) departed without making much impression as Karnataka took control.
However, Jadhav and Yadav batted with determination to deny the hosts further success until well into the second session before Gopal struck a second time. Yadav inside-edged the ball on to his stumps and Rest of India were pinned on 182/6.
In the last over before tea, Mithun delivered a double blow by first tempting Rishi Dhawan (15) into a pull shot to be caught at square-leg and then knocking back Jadhav's off-stump with a ball that kept low as Rest of India went into the break at 219/8, still 25 runs short of Karnataka's first innings total.
The Rest of India tail-enders added some useful runs with Varun Aaron (25) ensuring a small first innings lead before being the last man out.
Brief scores: Karnataka 244 all out and 39/0 vs Rest of India 264 all out (Kedar Jadhav 78, Naman Ojha 34; Vinay Kumar 3/76, Abhimanyu Mithun 3/46, Shreyas Gopal 3/51).