A disciplined bowling effort led by Abhimanyu Mithun followed by half centuries from KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal helped Karnataka defeat Tamil Nadu in a rain-curtailed encounter in Bengaluru on Friday in the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy (domestic 50-over side tournament).
Karnataka won the match by 60 runs (by the VJD method) as rain stopped play with 27 overs remaining in the match. The local side lifted the trophy at the Chinnaswamy Stadium with rain pelting down. Karnataka were thus crowned winners of the tournament for the fourth time as Dinesh Karthik’s TN side tasted defeat for the first time in this edition.
Asked to bat first by Manish Pandey, Tamil Nadu were off to a shaky start. The local seamers made use of the hint of moisture in the pitch early on to reduce their opponents to 24/2 in 8 overs. M Vijay and Ashwin Ravichandran (promoted to No 3) were the batsmen to be dismissed early.
But the two most prolific batsmen in the tournament for TN — Abhinav Mukund (85) and Baba Aparajith (66) — stitched together a classy 124-run partnership from there. Their wickets fell at inopportune moments for the team in yellow and was followed by Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar’s dismissals in quick succession too. Tamil Nadu collapsed from 142/2 in 30 overs to 252 all out.
Abhimanyu Mithun, also an India international, was the pick of the bowlers for Karnataka as he picked up a five-for. In fact, he celebrated his 30th birthday in style, by taking the last three wickets of the TN innings off the last three balls.
For the in-form Karnataka batting unit, that target was unlikely to prove challenging despite the presence of top spinners in TN’s attack. Washington Sundar managed to dismiss Karnataka’s top-score of the tournament, Devdutt Padikkal, cheaply but Mayank Agarwal joined hands with KL Rahul and the two India internationals thrilled the home crowd with some sensational strokeplay.
Agarwal, batting at No 3, was the more aggressive of the two as he went about punishing the TN bowlers every time they erred in line or length. He was especially severe on the pacers, hitting three boundaries off T Natarajan’s over at one point. Agarwal was the first to reach his half-century and was later followed by Rahul, who was happy to play second fiddle. The latter’s innings was not as fluent as Agarwal’s but he too played some sensational strokes.
In the end, play was not possible after the players walked off with 27 overs remaining and Karnataka were well ahead of the required target (87) calculated by the VJD method. R Ashwin ended up bowling just two overs and that would not have helped TN’s cause either.
Playing as a wicket-keeper batsman once again, Rahul remained in the thick of things, as he has been through the tournament, after hosts elected to field under overcast conditions, contributing in dismissal of four Tamil Nadu batsmen.
Mithun returned with his first ever five-wicket haul in List A games, which included a hat-trick in the final of the innings. He cleaned up M Shahrukh Khan, M Mohammed and Murugan Ashwin as Tamil Nadu folded for 252 in 49.5 overs.
Karnataka captain Manish Pandey was naturally delighted.
“We are very happy with the results. The mindset of the boys is they want to win every match they play. Hopefully we will continue doing well,” he said.
Tamil Nadu skipper Dinesh Karthik too expressed happiness for the way they played throughout the tournament.
“I think we played terrific cricket, one bad day doesn’t make a bad team. This should give confidence going into the T20s and the Ranji Trophy,” he said.