Dindigul, Tamil Nadu: India Blue dominated proceedings against India Red on the third day of the Duleep Trophy final at NPR College ground in Dindigul on Thursday, needing five more wickets to wrap up a win.
Fourteen wickets fell on the day, of which 12 were picked up by the spinners as offie Swapnil Singh turned things in India Blue's favour with a five-wicket haul in Red's first innings.
Resuming its first innings at 27 for 1 in response to the opponent's 541, defending champion India Red got off to a cautious start and lost just one wicket in the first 90 minutes.
However, a run-out before tea opened the floodgates and Swapnil (5 for 58) and Deepak Hooda (2 fo 18) took over. India Red lost wickets at regular intervals to be bundled out for 182, conceding a 359-run lead.
B Sandeep was the only India Red batsman to make a significant contribution, scoring 57 (112 balls, 6x4, 1x6). Resistance from the tail-enders (Parvez Rasool (22) and M Prasidh (25, 1x4, 3x6)) took the total to 182.
Swapnil's haul included Sandeep, Siddhesh Lad (8) and Ishan Kishan (0), among others.
India Blue skipper Faiz Fazal had no hesitation in enforcing the follow-on and the bowlers vindicated his faith by taking five wickets in the second innings to leave the team on the threshold of a memorable triumph.
Uttar Pradesh left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar got into the act in the second innings, taking three wickets as India Red slipped to 128 for 5 in 28 overs at stumps.
Vidarbha opener Sanjay Ramaswamy (11) was the first to go, stumped by Smit Patel of Saurabh.
Meanwhile, skipper Abhinav Mukund, looking to shake off a lean patch, had raced away to 46 before he was stumped by Patel off Saurabh.
Ashutosh Singh (22) was caught by Fazal off Saurabh to leave India Red in more trouble.
The usually reliable Siddesh Lad got a delivery that kept low from Hooda, to be dismissed for a duck.
Sandeep (22, 14 balls) looked in good touch before he edged one to Patel off Saurabh.
Kishan (25 not out) and Writtick Chatterjee (13 not out) saw the team through to stumps at 128/5.
They need 231 more runs to avoid an innings defeat.