A well-oiled pace battery set up Karnataka’s five-wicket win against Jharkhand on Saturday and set up a quarterfinal clash against Punjab in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Karnataka’s pacers justified captain Mayank Agarwal’s decision to insert the opposition by bowling out Jharkhand for a below-par 187 at the Narendra Modi Stadium. R. Samarth’s fifty at the top (53, 60b, 7x4) and in-form Nikin Jose’s unbeaten 63 (93b, 5x4) helped Karnataka overhaul the target with 55 balls to spare.
The victory was set up in the first hour, with the pacers exploiting friendly conditions. Even before Jharkhand had opened its account, Vidhwath Kaverappa swung one that kissed Arnav Sinha’s edge and rested in keeper B.R. Sharath’s gloves.
In the next over, Ronit More accounted for left-hander Utkarsh Singh, the other opener, who poked at one outside off-stump. Veteran Shahbaz Nadeem, promoted to see off the new ball, and captain Virat Singh then played the waiting game until Virat committed harakiri.
The stylish left-hander attempted a lofted on-drive off the last ball of the Powerplay straight to M. Venkatesh at mid-on. When Saurabh Tiwary top-edged a swat three overs hence to give Venkatesh his first wicket. Three balls later, Nadeem perished off allrounder Bhandage to leave Jharkhand reeling at 40 for five.
Kumar Kushagra and Anukul Roy then displayed the best batting exhibition of the day with a 115-run partnership. Kushagra, the batter-wicketkeeper, showcased his prowess to impress outgoing selectors watching from the gallery. While he respected the pacers and made use of fuller deliveries on an easing pitch, Kushagra targeted the spin duo of K. Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal.
Venkatesh was rewarded with his short-ball ploy in the 40th over when Kushagra’s attempted pull resulted in an edge to Sharath. The tail hardly wagged as Karnataka pacers shared all ten wickets.
Jharkhand 187 in 47.5 overs (Kumar Kushagra 74, Anukul Roy 57, Vidhwath Kaverappa 3/20, Ronit More 3/31, M. Venkatesh 3/51) lost to Karnataka 188/5 in 40.5 overs (Nikin Jose 63 n.o., R. Samarth 53).
Mumbai 220 in 48.3 overs (Hardik Tamore 53, Shams Mulani 51, Shivam Mavi 4/41) lost to Uttar Pradesh 221/2 in 45.4 overs (Aryan Juyal 82, Madhav Kaushik 46, Karan Sharma 42 n.o., Priyam Garg 39 n.o.)
Kerala 174 in 47.4 overs (Vinoop Manoharan 62, Auqib Nabi 4/39) lost to Jammu & Kashmir 175/3 in 37.5 overs (Shubham Khajuria 76, Qamran Iqbal 51 retd. hurt).