Vijay Hazare Trophy: K. L. Rahul hits century, steers Karnataka to win

Karnataka defeated Kerala by 60 runs at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. Chhattisgarh overcame Mumbai in a thrilling contest at the Alur grounds.

Enterprising: K. L. Rahul attempts an upper cut during his match-winning knock on Saturday.   -  Sudhakara Jain

A career-best 131 from K. L. Rahul steered Karnataka to an eventually comfortable 60-run win over Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy here on Saturday. Batting first, Karnataka rode on Rahul’s highest List-A score to make 294 before Kerala was bowled out in 46.4 overs, at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. The result propelled Manish Pandey’s men to the top of the Elite Group-A table, with eight points from two games.

Kerala was cruising at one point in the run chase, with Sanju Samson and Vishnu Vinod at the crease. The pair had added 107 runs for the second wicket when the partnership was snapped. Samson, who had seemed untroubled during his 66-ball-67, was run out at the non-striker’s end having backed up too far. Vinod went on to score 104 — his first List-A hundred — but he steadily ran out of partners.

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Earlier, after Kerala won the toss and put Karnataka in, Rahul walked out to applause from a small but vocal crowd. A banner was strung up in one part of the stadium. On it were scrawled the words ‘We are with you,’ next to a picture of Rahul’s. The player gave his supporters a wave during the first drinks break and would go on to delight them over the course of the afternoon. He began watchfully, and was distinctly the junior partner during his third-wicket stand with Manish Pandey. The Karnataka captain batted with a remarkable fluency, making it clear that he belonged to a different level. He toyed with Basil Thampi, executing a superb lofted drive over cover for six, in the 13th over, before following that up with a hat-trick of fours. Pandey fell for a 51-ball-50, caught at point.

Pressing the accelerator

Rahul eased into his innings, taking 68 balls to reach his half-century, at which stage he had struck only three boundaries. From there, he exploded, needing only 40 more balls to get to his hundred. Off the last 54 balls he faced, Rahul clobbered 81 runs. Spinners Sijomon Joseph and Manoharan were deposited into the stands with little fuss. The former was then smashed for three neat fours in a row — a late cut, a slog sweep and then a straight drive. Sandeep Warrier was whacked for successive sixes, the first launched over extra cover, and the second into the members’ stand over long-on. After Rahul fell, having faced 122 balls (10x4, 4x6), the Karnataka innings lost momentum. The home side lost six wickets for 46 runs inside the last eight overs, but it did not come to matter.

Upset win for Chhattisgarh

Meanwhile, at the Alur grounds, Chhattisgarh pulled off a sensational victory over Mumbai, chasing down 318 with one ball to spare. Amandeep Khare made an unbeaten 117 (94b, 8x4, 4x6), as Chhattisgarh won by five wickets.

The scores
  • Karnataka 294 in 49.5 overs (K. L. Rahul 131, Manish Pandey 50, Shreyas Gopal 31, Basil Thampi three for 70, K. M. Asif three for 59) bt Kerala 234 (Sanju Samson 67, Sachin Baby 26) by 60 runs.
  • Hyderabad 252 for five in 50 overs (Tanmay Agarwal 79, Tilak Varma 65, B. Sandeep 38 n.o.) bt Saurashtra 131 in 39.1 overs (Sheldon Jackson 39, B. Sandeep five for 26) by 121 runs.
  • Mumbai 317 for five in 50 overs (Aditya Tare 90, Shreyas Iyer 50, Suryakumar Yadav 81, Yashasvi Jaiswal 44) lost to Chhattisgarh 318 for five in 49.5 overs (Amandeep Khare 117 n.o., Jiwanjot Singh 44, Ashutosh Singh 35, Harpreet Singh Bhatia 26, Shashank Singh 40, Shams Mulani three for 38) by five wickets.