Vijay Hazare Trophy: Centuries for Agarwal, Samarth as Karnataka sails into semis

Adopting contrasting styles, an irrepressible Mayank Agarwal and a methodical R. Samarth smashed centuries to take Karnataka past a hapless Hyderabad en route to the semifinal of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Once Karnataka opted to bat on a firm, batting-friendly strip, Hyderabad was only trying to catch up in what turned out to be a one-sided match.   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Adopting contrasting styles, an irrepressible Mayank Agarwal and a methodical R. Samarth smashed centuries to take Karnataka past a hapless Hyderabad en route to the semifinal of the Vijay Hazare Trophy here.

If Karnataka effectively batted Hyderabad out of the contest at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground, Maharashtra was clinical in its domination of a struggling Mumbai at the Air Force ground, Palam, on Wednesday.

Karnataka won by 103 runs and Maharashtra cruised to a seven-wicket triumph to set up the first semifinal on Saturday.

Once Karnataka opted to bat on a firm, batting-friendly strip, Hyderabad was only trying to catch up in what turned out to be a one-sided match.

Karnataka’s 348 for nine – built on Agarwal’s 111-ball 140 (12x4, 7x6) and Samarth’s 124-ball 125 (13x4) was intimidating. The second-wicket stand of 242 runs off just 34.1 overs pushed Hyderabad to the brink of desperation. Though Karnataka’s bid to accelerate in the last seven overs produced only 44 runs for the loss of seven wickets – with Mohammad Siraj taking five wickets – Hyderabad knew it was too little, too late.

Playing like a man possessed, Agarwal continued his form to score his third century of the competition this season. He stroked the ball well, found the gaps almost at will and smashed sixes, mostly in front of the wicket. He reached his century, off 83 deliveries, with a six over mid-wicket. He was out when looking for his eighth six.

Samarth, though less flamboyant than Agarwal, played some delectable cuts past the point region, pierced the gaps on both sides of the wicket. Particularly noticeable was his ability to cleverly guide the ball fine, to third-man and fine-leg fence.

Hyderabad was also handicapped by the injury to wicketkeeper K. Sumanth this morning. This led to skipper Ambati Rayudu donning the keeper’s gloves.

When Hyderabad chased, the 71-run second-wicket stand between Rohit Rayudu and Ravi Teja and later the 98-run fourth wicket partnership involving B. Sandeep and Ambati Rayudu kept Karnataka at bay.

Thereafter, the fall of seven wickets for 42 runs –with Shreyas Gopal scalping five wickets – resulted in a handsome winning margin.

Maharashtra cruises to victory

Similarly, Maharashtra was never in serious danger as it avenged the seven-wicket loss suffered to Mumbai in their T20 encounter at Rajkot last month.

Electing to bat, Mumbai lost its top three batsmen by the 11th over. Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Shams Mulani and Shubham Ranjane got starts but could not make them count.

Maharashtra covered the distance by riding on a 117-run second wicket stand between Shrikant Mundhe and skipper Rahul Tripathi, followed by an unfinished 89-run fourth-wicket association between Naushad Shaikh and Ankit Bawane (37 not out).

Brief scores:

At the Ferozeshah Kotla ground: Karnataka 348 for nine in 50 overs (Mayank Agarwal 140, R. Samarth 125, Mohammad Siraj five for 59) beat Hyderabad 244 in 42.5 overs (A. Rayudu 64, Ravi Teja 53, B. Sandeep 42, Shreyas Gopal five for 31, Stuart Binny three for 45) by 103 runs.

At the Air Force ground, Palam: Mumbai 222 for nine in 50 overs (Surya Kumar Yadav 69, Pradeep Dadhe three for 57) lost to Maharashtra 224 for three in 46.4 overs (Shrikant Mundhe 70, Naushad Shaikh 51 not out, Rahul Tripathi 49) by seven wickets.

Thursday’s quarterfinals: Delhi v Andhra Pradesh (Air Force ground, Palam); Baroda v Saurashtra (Ferozeshah Kotla ground)