Chasing 333 to win, Uttar Pradesh ended 55/1, needing further 278 to book a semi-final berth. Both teams will fancy their chances and the contest is set to finish one day early, tomorrow. Tanmay Srivatsava (23) and Ali Murtaza (2) are the not out batsmen at stumps.
Two star performers were on show today at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium - one each for Uttar Pradesh and the hosts. Earlier today, UP had declared at their overnight score of 221/9, handing the hosts 128-run lead.
It was left-arm spinner Murtaza who gave the visitors a chance to believe that they can win. His six-wicket haul restricted Karnataka to 204 all out in the second innings. It was a commendable effort by UP without captain RP Singh, who could not bowl due to hamstring injury on first day.
For the home team, opener KL Rahul stood till the end for a superb 92 not out (188 balls, 13x4). If not for this crucial innings, Karnataka would have been bowled out for less than 150.
Rahul, who was part of the India Under-23 team that won the Emerging Teams Cup last year in August, impressed with the bat when his team-mates failed. A well deserved hundred was denied when he ran out of partners.
The 21-year-old guided the team when they were reeling at 73/5. After the day's play he said he would be satisifed with this knock only if Karnataka win.
Karnataka's second innings was off to a disastrous start when first innings centurion Robin Uthappa fell for a duck in the opening over to Ankit Rajpoot.
With captain R Vinay Kumar (9) and left-arm spinner Abrar Kazi (0) filling up the number three and four slots respectively due to an injury to R Samarth, UP bowlers held advantage at 15/3 with both gone quickly.
Samarth had injured his left little finger during fielding yesterday and had to come out to bat only at number nine. He was, however, out for 6, trapped LBW by Murtaza.
Rahul carried his bat with useful contributions coming from Karun Nair (25), Shreyas Gopal (36) and Abhimanyu Mithun (19).
When on 92 and off strike, Rahul had to disappointingly watch Mithun go for a slog-sweep and get bowled by Murtaza which was followed next ball with the dismissal of HS Sharath, LBW for a golden duck to the same bowler.
Karnataka are short of one bowler with Sharath ruled out from bowling after sustaining an injury to his right shoulder while fielding yesterday.
With still more than 250 runs to score, Murtaza, as was his bowling today, expressed confidence of chasing down the target. Murtaza felt they held the upperhand at the moment.
But Rahul called it an even match after three days of battle.
In all, it should be an exciting day of cricket Saturday.
Uttar Pradesh 55/1 in 18 overs (Tanmay Srivatsava 23 batting, Mukul Dagar 23, Shreyas Gopal 1/3) and 221/9 declared Vs Karnataka 349 and 204 all out in 66.5 overs (KL Rahul 92 not out, CM Gautam 36, Karun Nair 25, Abhimanyu Mithun 19, Ali Murtaza 6/64, Ankit Rajpoot 2/30, Amit Mishra 1/55)
Match status: UP need 278 runs more to win