Mumbai: Hosts Mumbai rode on a solid batting display following their excellent bowling stint and looked poised for an outright win against Punjab on day three of the four-day Group B Ranji Trophy tie here on Saturday.
After being skittled for a paltry 154 in their first essay, Punjab bowlers allowed the 40-time champions to rake up an imposing total of 569 for 8 declared, conceding a massive lead of 415 to the hosts.
Though Punjab batsmen, in particular opener Jiwanjot Singh (91 in 159 balls, 12 fours) and number four Mandeep Singh (82 not out in 133 balls), showed better application in the second essay, the visitors were still left facing a massive task at close of the penultimate day.
When stumps were drawn for the day, Punjab were placed at 244 for 4 in 77 overs, trailing by 171 runs going into the final day tomorrow on a track where the odd ball turned.
The unbeaten batsmen at close were Mandeep, who has hit 11 fours so far in his 225-minute stay, and Himanshu Chawla (31).
The batsmen out in the Punjab second innings were opener Manan Vohra, his second failure here, Jiwanjot - who was unfortunately run out to break a promising stand of 101 with Mandeep, Uday Kaul and skipper Yuvraj Singh - who was bowled round his legs for 14 while trying to sweep part-time spinner Akhil Herwadkar.
Had Mumbai possessed a better spin attack than what they have in this game - with left arm spinner Harmeet Singh their main hope but not looking really threatening - Punjab could have been in more of a bother.
With the second new ball due early tomorrow, Mumbai would fancy their chances of polishing off the remaining Punjab batsmen and then surging to a victory.
In the morning, Mumbai carried their overnight score from the overnight 495 for 6 to past the 560 mark before declaring.
Skipper Aditya Tare, not out 111 yesterday, remained unconquered on 137 after a five-hour stay during which he faced 172 balls and struck 16 fours.
Brief scores: Punjab 154 and 244 for 4 (Jiwanjot Singh 91, Mandeep Singh not out 82, H Chawla not out 31). Mumbai 569 for 8 declared (S Iyer 200, S Yadav 78, A Tare 137 not out, D Kulkarni 42; S Kaul 2 for 103, Barinder Sran 3 for 87, S Ladda 2 for 197).