Lahil (Haryana): Kerala were on the verge of a maiden quarterfinal entry in the Ranji Trophy after reducing Haryana to 83/5 in their second innings on the third and penultimate day of the Group B match here on Monday.
Haryana need a further 98 runs to make Kerala bat again. Rajat Paliwal (25 batting) and Amit Mishra (15 batting) carry the home side's hopes on the final day. Basil Thampi and Jalal Saxena picked up a couple of wickets each while Sandeep Warrier chipped in with one.
Kerala are in second spot in the group with 24 points, behind Gujarat (27). Saurashtra are third with 23. Both Gujarat and Saurashtra are in with a chance to win their respective games against Jharkhand and Rajasthan.
An innings win or a 10-wicket victory for Kerala will earn them a bonus point and that should mean Sachin Baby and Co. will march into the last eight of the country's premier domestic competition irrespective of the other Group B results.
Earlier, Kerala made 389 in their first innings, a lead of 181 runs. Night watchman Basil made a quickfire 60 (75b, 10x4, 1x6), while Rohan Prem fell seven short of a ton.
Mohammed Azharuddeen (34) and Slaman Nizar (33) put on 61 runs for the seventh wicket to consolidate Kerala's position.
Medium-pacer Ajit Chahal returned figures of 5/90 while leggie Amit Mishar scalped 3/105 for the hosts.
Brief scores: Haryana 208 and 83/5 in 41 overs vs Kerala 389 in 129.3 overs.