Much before the result was formalized, Karnataka’s openers firmly shut the door on Kerala and paved the way for an 80-run win and a place in the semifinals of the Vijay Hazare (50-over) tournament at the Air Force Ground, Palam, here on Monday.

Opting to field in perfect batting conditions proved Kerala’s undoing. Nothing went right for Sachin Baby and his men as R. Samarth (192,158b, 22×4, 3×6) and Devdutt Padikkal (101, 119b, 10×4, 2×6) laid a 249-run foundation for a towering total of 338 for three in 50 overs.

In reply, Kerala was never in the hunt. Barring the resistance offered by Vathsal Govind (92, 96b, 6×4, 3×6) and Mohammad Azharudeen (52,34b, 5×4, 6×2) during their sixth-wicket stand of 92 runs, there was no bright spot for Kerala.

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Medium pacer Ronit More (5/36) scalped three of the top four Kerala batsmen – Robin Uthappa (2), Rohan Kannumma (0) and a well-set Vathsal – to ensure the chase was never really on. Azharruddin tried to step up the scoring rate but was stumped in his attempt to have a go at Shreyas Gopal.

Earlier, Samarth and Padikkal dictated the course of the match without taking any undue risk. They maintained a very healthy run-rate by sending the ball across the ropes at regular intervals. Padikkal’s departure soon did not slow down Samarth. In fact, Karnataka moved
from 250 to 301 off just 5.5 overs, with Pandey joining the act

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In the penultimate over, Samarth fell in trying to reach his double-century. He holed out at long on off medium pacer N. P. Basil and, four ball later, removed new-man K. Gowtham.

Among the medium pacers, S. Sreesanth (10-1-73-0) and Basil Thampi (7-0-67-0) undid all the good work done early on by new-ball off-spinner Jalaj Saxena (10-1-34-0). Basil (8-0-57-3) was the only successful bowler.

The scores:

Karnataka 338/3 in 50 overs (R. Samarth 192, Devdutt Padikkal 101, Manish Pandey not out 34, N. P. Basil 3/57) beat Kerala 258 in 43.4 overs (Vathsal Vinod 92, Mohammad Azharrudin 52, Ronit More 5/35, Shreyas Gopal 2/64, K. Gowtham 2/73) by 80 runs.