Punjab are just 51 runs away from a deserving win as they bundled out Uttar Pradesh for a paltry 95 in their second innings and then reached 61-2 at stumps on the third day of the Ranji Trophy Group A match.
As many as 17 Wickets fell on the third day as Uttar Pradesh quickly got rid of the remaining seven Punjab batmen to dismiss them for 319, grabbing a 16-run first inning lead.
However, Uttar Pradesh themselves faltered in their second essay as only three of their batsmen could reach doubles figures with Rinku Singh (43) emerging as the top scorer.
Siddharth Kaul turned out to be the wrecker-in-chief as he returned with a six-wicket haul, while Sandeep Sharma and Gurkeerat Mann picked up one wicket each to wrap up UP’s innings in just 38.5 overs.
Opener Manan Vohra (34) and Jiwanjot Singh (27) then shared a 59-run partnership in 15.4 overs.
At the draw of stumps, Jiwanjot was at the crease and giving him company was Uday Kaul (0) with Punjab needing 51 with eight wickets at hand at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Earlier, Ankit Rajpoot and Imtiaz Ahmed snapped three wickets each after Punjab resumed their first innings at 243-3.
Yuvraj Singh, who was at an overnight score of 72, was the first to be dismissed when he was caught by Eklavya Dwivedi off Imtiaz Ahmed. Gurkeerat Mann (1) then was cleaned up in the 85th over by Imtiaz as Punjab lost half their side.
One ball later, Imtiaz sent back Gitansh Khera (0) with Rinku taking the catch. Ankit then got into the act and removed Vinay Choudhary as Punjab slipped to 267-7.
Ankit then cleaned up Mandeep Singh in the 105th over after he had taken Punjab across the 300-mark. Siddharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma also were back to the hut without disturbing the score.
With a lead of 16-runs, Uttar Pradesh had to score a good total on board but Siddharth spoilt their broth as he struck the first blow, picking up opener Umang Sharma (5) in the 6th over and then removed Sarfaraz Khan (2) and Samarth Singh (0) in his next over.
Sandeep then dismissed other opener Tanmay Srivastava (17) in the 22nd over. Eklavya Dwivedi (14) was then cleaned up by Siddharth as UP slipped to 83-5.
Kuldeep Yadav was runout in the next over, while Gurkeerat sent Saurabh back in the last ball of the over. Siddharth then dismissed Imtiaz Ahmed (7) and Amit Mishra (2) while Ankit Rajpoot was run out by Vinay Choudhary.
Uttar Pradesh 1st innings: 335
Uttar Pradesh 2nd innings: 95 all out in 38.5 overs (Rinku Singh 43; Siddharth Kaul 6/27)
Punjab 1st innings: 319 in 105.4 overs (Yuvraj Singh 85; Saurabh Kumar 4/71)
Punjab 2nd innings: 61/2 in 18 overs (M Vohra 34; Kuldeep Yadav 1/9).