Kolkata: Swapnil Gugale scored a half-century as Maharashtra finished day three on 110 for one in reply to Tamil Nadu's massive first innings total of 549 in their semifinal match of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament here today.
Led by opener Gugale's 56 not out from 100 balls (11x4) in an unbroken 90-run stand with Chirag Khurana (36 batting from 77; 7x4), Maharashtra closed the day on a positive note.
The last season's runners-up still have an improbable task in hand, needing 440 runs to secure a first innings lead and ensure a final berth in the match heading towards a draw.
Resuming on 426 for five, Tamil Nadu's innings finally folded one hour and 15 minutes after lunch in an ironical way when Prasanth Paramaswaran (0) was run out by Anupam Sanklecha while responding to Malolan Rangarajan's call for a second.
Rangarajan was left stranded at the other end with 67 not out (147 balls) as Tamil Nadu batted 226.4 overs spanning 16 hours and 40 minutes at a run-rate of 2.42.
Earlier Sanklecha (3/115) dismissed the two overnight batsmen Baba Indrajith (69) and Ramaswamy Prasanna (72), both caught at the slip cordon by Harshad Khadiwale, with addition of 20 runs in the day.
But the tired Maharashtra bowlers slogged to bundle them out as the last three wickets added 105 crucial runs that centred around Rangarajan, who in the process completed his fourth first-class fifty.
Maharashtra started scoring freely from ball number one with Gugale slicing Parameswaran through third man boundary.
Gugale lost his senior opening partner Khadiwale (14) early when the latter's defence was breached by Laxmipathy Balaji's incoming delivery. But Khurana gave Maharashtra some ray of hope.
The target, Gugale said, would be to bat through the day tomorrow keeping small targets in mind.
Not being over ambitious, Gugale said: "We just need to keep batting and keep small targets in mind and then probably take things as they come. If we remain focused I hope things would fall in place."
On the wicket, he said: "It's pretty flat, and the ball is not doing much off the seam or the surface. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's game."
Tamil Nadu: 549 all out in 226 overs (Dinesh Karthik 113, Vijay Shankar 91, Ramaswamy Prasanna 72, Baba Indrajith 69, Malolan Rangarajan 67).
Maharashtra: 110 for one in 32 overs (Swapnil Gugale 56 batting, Chirag Khurana 36 batting).