Saurashtra 98 and 368 for 8 (Unadkat 78*, Bhut 6*, Saurabh 3-80, Sen 3-85) lead Rest of India 374 (Sarfaraz 138, Vihari 82, Saurabh 55, Sakariya 5-93) by 92 runs
Saurashtra showed a lot of fight, adding 281 runs through their middle and lower order, but Rest of India remained firm favourites to win the Irani Cup.
At stumps on the third day, Saurashtra reached to 368 for 8, riding on half-centuries from the quartet comprising Sheldon Jackson (71), Arpit Vasavada (55), Prerak Mankad (72) and captain Jaydev Unadkat (78 not out).
The overall lead is 92 runs now and Saurashtra will like to stretch it to at least 175 in order to make it a contest.
With 276 runs in arrears, Saurashtra were staring at an innings defeat after being reduced to 87 for 5 before lunch.
However, Jackson and Vasavada, who have bailed Saurashtra out many a times in the past, added 117 runs for the sixth wicket to steady the ship.
But, it was the 144-run eighth wicket stand between Unadkat and all-rounder Mankad that raised visions — however improbable it may look at the moment — of pulling off a heist.
The duo not only had a century stand but also scored the runs at a quick clip — in only 29.3 overs — to keep the contest alive.
If it was Jackson who took the attack back to the opposition by repeatedly stepping out to left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar (3 for 80 in 25 overs) to disturb his length, the pair of Unadkat and Mankad used the extra pace of Kuldeep Sen (3 for 85 in 16 overs) and Umran Malik (0 for 59 in 16 overs) to their advantage.
They hit six sixes from the bowling of Jackson, Vasavada and Unadkat.