Thuthipet: Kerala's hopes of advancing to the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals suffered a big setback as they conceded the vital first innings lead to Pondicherry in their Elite Group C match at the Siechem Stadium here on Thursday.
Kerala were bowled out for 286 in reply to the home side's 371, with left-arm spinner Sagar Udeshi picking up five wickets. Pondicherry ended the third day on 34/1 in their second innings, an overall lead of 119.
Kerala's only hope is to bowl out the hosts quickly on the final day and chase down the target.
Kerala lost the key wickets of Sachin Baby and Salman Nizar in the morning session before Akshay Chandran and captain Sijomon Joseph revived their hopes.
The in-form Sachin was the first to go as Kerala resumed on 111/3. He was castled by Krishna Pandey for 39. The two left-handers Sachin and Salman added 56 for the fourth wicket.
Salman was dismissed by medium-pacer Abin Mathew with the total on 152. He hit three fours and a six in his 126-ball 44.
Akshay and Sijomon added 90 for the sixth wicket. Udeshi struck a big blow by sending back Sijomon for 35 with tea round the corner.
Akshay (70) was caught and bowled by Udeshi soon after the tea break. The southpaw hit three fours in his 164-ball knock.
Udeshi sent back Basil Thampi for a duck and claimed his fifth wicket by accounting for Jalaj Saxena (15).
M D Nidheesh was the last man to fall after a quick-fire 24.
Brief scores: Pondicherry 371 & 34/1 in 14 overs vs Kerala 286 in 113 overs (Akshay Chandran 70, Salman Nizar 44; Sagar Udeshi 5/62, Krishna Pandey 2/25, Abin Mathew 2/68).