Tension mounted. The final day’s chase could go either way. The team that held its nerve would win.
Eventually, it was Andhra, led courageously by skipper Hanuma Vihari, that refused to wilt. Vihari had instilled his men with belief.
Tamil Nadu, pursuing 203 for a win, lost the plot from 155 for three to go down to the spirited Andhra by eight runs.
Even as emotions swirled around, the visitor celebrated the come-from-behind Ranji win on a sporting pitch of good bounce and carry at the Ramakrishna ground on Friday.
Washington Sundar, who batted with as much skill as heart, stood crestfallen as the dust settled on day four.
With only the last man Sandeep Warrier for company, Washington (65, 118b, 5x4), who had been batting with considerable restraint, was forced to play the fatal pull shot off seamer K.V. Sasikanth.
The target of just over 200 in over 60 was achievable with common sense batting rather than going ballistic. N. Jagadeesan, perhaps carried away by his form, went for too much too early to be held in the deep for 14.
The talented Sai Sudharsan sizzled with strokes on both sides for his 37 before edging a Shoaib delivery that spun away. B. Aparajith was bowled by a classical off-spinner that went through the gate.
Vijay Shankar, his feet static, knocked one back to Shoaib, who had got the ball to dip. The young Pradosh Ranjan Paul, feeling the heat, fell to an ill-fated pull.
Tamil Nadu was ambushed by Shoaib Md. Khan, who bowled his off-spinners, the delivery that came in with the arm, and the one that held its line, capably to finish with match-winning six for 69.
Earlier he had cut, pulled and swept his way to a 47-ball 28 that took the target beyond 200.
And the lively Sasikanth, bowled with control and employed the short pitched ball judiciously, to return figures of four for 47.
For the host, left-arm spinner Sai Kishore’s five for 88 in Andhra’s second innings score of 250, went unrewarded.
He struck as much with turn as bounce and dismissed key man Ricky Bhui (76, 143b, 7x4, 1x6) with a quicker, straighter delivery,
As Tamil Nadu closed in, Andhra was without two frontline bowlers, paceman Ayappa, nursing a finger fracture, and left-arm spinner, Lalith Mohan, who hurt his quadriceps,
Amidst the storm, the left-handed Washington, batted with elegance and composure in equal measure.
When No. 10 Ajith Ram joined the Washington, Tamil Nadu needed 37 more runs, and Andhra required two wickets.
Washington, who had bowled his off-spin with precision, absorbed the pressure and whittled down the target to nine when Ajith was ruled caught behind by a Shoaib delivery that spun away.
Tamil Nadu needed partnerships but there was only one sizable association of 80 in 107 balls between the left-right combination of Washington and the fleet-footed Indrajith.
The partnership was broken when Indrajith (43, 68b, 5x4) was adjudged leg-before to one that held its line from Shoiab.
Then came the horrendous collapse.