Karnataka defeated Uttar Pradesh by five wickets in its last Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy league stage match to finish with 16 points from five games (four wins), but its progress further in the tournament will depend on Tuesday's results.
Punjab, with five wins out of five, qualified for the quarterfinals as the Elite Group A winner, leaving Karnataka to jostle for one of two places reserved for the second-best teams. Himachal, which came second in Elite Group C behind Baroda, with 16 points and four wins, already has a net run rate above Karnataka’s (+0.940 to +0.292.), further narrowing the defending champion’s chances.
Karnataka didn’t help its cause on Monday, taking 19.3 overs to chase down Uttar Pradesh’s 132-run total. Devdutt Padikkal came good again, scoring a 19-ball 34 (4x4, 2x6) but like in the previous games, found little support. Opening partner Rohan Kadam fell for five while K.L. Shrijith was out for his second golden duck in as many matches.
Skipper Karun Nair lumbered along for a 21-ball 21 while Anirudha Joshi took 32 balls to score 21, slowing things down drastically. From overs six to 16.1, Karnataka scored just 59 runs, leaving the lower order with much to do. Shreyas Gopal responded to the call with a quickfire 47 (28b, 5x4, 1x6) that carried his side home, and will now be hoping for the effort to be more than just academic.
Earlier, after being put into bat, the Uttar Pradesh openers sent the Karnataka bowlers on a leather hunt. Only J. Suchith’s intervention helped break the 69-run stand between Abhishek Goswami (47, 32b, 5x4, 2x6) and Karan Sharma (41, 29b, 2x4, 3x6), with the former stumped by Shrijith.
Sharma continued to prosper before Suchith and leggie Pravin Dubey removed him and Suresh Raina in the space of three balls. The spin duo then accounted for the Uttar Pradesh middle-order too, dismissing captain Priyam Garg, Hardeep Singh and Nalin Mishra.
Suchith finished with figures of 3/21 from four overs and Dubey 3/15, while Shreyas was economical (1/22 from four overs). The fine bowling performance -- in the absence of K. Gowtham who is out of the tournament after a split webbing in his left hand -- saw no Uttar Pradesh batsman, apart from the openers, get into double digits. The effort, unfortunately, was not fully complemented by the batsmen.