Captain Lakshmipathy Balaji and Malolan Rangarajan shared eight wickets between them as Tamil Nadu gained a 43-run first-innings lead over Maharashtra on the second day of their Group B Ranji Trophy match on Sunday.
After overnight batsman Rangarajan was caught behind by Rohit Motwani off Shrikant Mundhe in the eighth ball of the morning, the home team bowlers took charge and turned the tide in their favour.
Mundhe returned figures of four for 38 in 17.2 overs.
Balaji then succeeded in dismissing the Maharashtra openers Harshad Khadiwale and Chirag Khurana, and with Malolan chipping in with his nippy and good length deliveries, the Maharashtra top-order collapsed to 41 for four.
However, Sangram Atitkar and inform Kedar Jadhav, who acquitted himself well in the last match against Uttar pradesh with a superb triple hundred, arrested the slide.
They were cautious in their approach and frustrated the rival bowlers.
It took a beauty from Malolan to get rid of Atitkar who offered a catch to Abhinav Mukund.
He made a valuable 36 (4x4) and added 53 runs with Jadhav for the fifth wicket in 30 overs.
Unfortunately, Maharashtra lost the wicket of Jadhav too, in the 38th over.
And yet again it was Malolan, who provided the break through, as he had Jadhav stumped by Dinesh Karthik for 45.
Maharashtra captain Motwani, just when it seemed like he was settling down, was trapped in front by medium pacer Jaganathan Kaushik. Motwani was stumped by Karthik and his knock of 44 contained six hits to the fence.
When Shrikant too made his exit three overs later, Tamil Nadu bowlers heaved a sigh of relief and dismissed the Maharashtra tail for a vital first-innings lead. Shrikant, who top-scored with 61, hit nine fours and a six.