Vijay Hazare Trophy: K. L. Rahul helps Karnataka seal semis berth

Rahul scored 90 as Karnataka defeated Puducherry by eight wickets at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

K. L. Rahul started shakily, but gained confidence as his innings wore on. File Photo: PTI

Karnataka made short work of Puducherry in their Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinal outing, cruising to an eight-wicket win at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.

The difference in class between the two sides was all too apparent, as Karnataka simply dismissed Puducherry out of sight.

After restricting Puducherry to a sub-par 207, the host hardly broke a sweat in the chase. K. L. Rahul (90b, 112b, 8x4, 1x6), Devdutt Padikkal (50, 54b, 5x4, 1x6) and Rohan Kadam (50 n.o., 68b, 3x4) got among the runs, taking Karnataka to victory with nine overs to spare.

AS IT HAPPENED

Rahul started nervously, nearly edging one from R. Vinay Kumar onto his stumps, and struggled through the early blues, before finally opening up with a few crisp drives. As he spent more time at the crease, he began to look more assured. An attempted sweep off left-arm spinner Sagar Udeshi went awry, ending his exciting knock.

Rahul’s opening partner, Padikkal, was in great nick. The stylish left-hander got into the groove with flowing front-foot cover dives, and delighted with the unorthodox one-legged ‘Nataraja’ pulls.

Read | Padikkal shows promise to go far

Padikkal, however, gave his wicket away cheaply, cutting a short ball from Sagar to Paras Dogra at point.  The 98-run opening stand put Karnataka in the driver’s seat, and Puducherry had no way back.

Top-order collapse

Earlier, a top-order collapse pushed Puducherry into a deep hole. Opener Arun Karthik was sent back in the second over, castled by pacer Prasidh Krishna, bringing Vinay in to bat. The former Karnataka captain took on the pinch hitter role, but his wild heaves completely missed the mark. A frustrated Vinay soon skied a length ball from A. Mithun — formerly his trusted new ball partner — to square-leg, where Shreyas Gopal completed a good catch. It was forgettable return to the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium for Vinay.

Suresh Kumar’s horror attempt at running for an overthrow resulted in a comical run-out. Much depended on Paras Dogra, but when the experienced batsman was prised out by spinner Praveen Dubey, Puducherry was looking down the barrel at 41 for six.

Recovery

Sagar Trivedi (54, 60b, 5x4, 2x6) and Vikneshwaran Marimuthu (58, 98b, 3x4, 2x6) steadied the ship with a 76-run partnership. After Trivedi returned to the hut, Marimuthu carried on the fight with Fabid Ahmed (37, 40b, 2x6). The late-order contributions pushed Puducherry past the 200 mark, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stop Karnataka from sealing a semifinal berth.

Prasidh, meanwhile, suffered a side strain and bowled only two overs. The severity of the injury and his match-fitness will become clear after a full assessment. Karnataka sprang a surprise by dropping regular wicketkeeper B. R. Sharath. Rahul kept wickets instead, and gave a good account of himself with three good catches.