On the final day of the last Group A league match here today, test discard Irfan Pathan's brother Yusuf Pathan made most of a deteriorating wicket and raised hopes of Baroda's victory, snapping six wickets.
However, the home team, placed in a must win situation to avoid relegation, scraped through 41 minutes before lunch, scoring 116 for eight in 34.2 overs.
With this only victory of the season, Tamil Nadu finished with eight points and edged past Haryana (seven points) and stayed afloat in the Elite league.
Requiring a further 87 runs to seal its maiden win of the season, Tamil Nadu batsmen committed hara-kiri and lost three quick wickets, all to Yusuf, very early in the day.
Both the overnight batsmen R Prasanna (14, 39 balls, 2x4) and M Vijay (23, 71 balls, 2x4) fell early. Prasanna was held at point and Vijay was caught at silly point.
Former skipper Hemang K Badani (two, 10 balls) too did not last long as he was gobbled at forward short leg as the hosts stuttered at 64 for four, resuming at 26 for one.
A couple of lusty blows by R Sathish (33) enlivened the proceedings and brought the home team on the brink of victory before Skipper Badrinath (22, 29 balls 3x4) fell to Yusuf, for the second time in the match, reducing Tamil Nadu to 101 for five.
Badrinath added 37 runs for the fifth wicket with Sathish in six overs, before yet another collapse -- this time three wickets falling at the score of 108 in eight balls -- heightened the tension.
Sathish scored run-a-ball 33 with three fours and a six. After he made his exit, the experienced Sharath (zero) and S Vidyut (zero) too fell causing ripples in the dressing room.
But medium pacer C Ganapathy struck a timely boundary, under pressure, off off-spinner Bhoite to mid off fence to ensure that Tamil Nadu retained its place in the elite group.
Baroda 263 and 191 lost to Tamil Nadu 342 and 116 for 8 (R Satish 33, M Vijay 23, S Badri 22; Yousuf Pathan 6 for 47, Bohite 1 for 5, Irfan Pathan 1 for 32) by 2 wickets