The largest crowd for a domestic match in at least two decades in the State Capital was denied the pleasure of a conventional victory in the final, but the home fans were treated to some delightful performances by their favourite players as they wrapped their hands around the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Having restricted Tamil Nadu to 252 all out in 49.5 overs -- courtesy birthday boy A Mithun’s best List A figures (5/35) which also included a maiden hat-trick by a Karnataka bowler in the Vijay Hazare Trophy -- the hosts were 146/1 in 23 overs in their reply when the umpires stopped play due to bad light at 3.06 pm. And no sooner players retreated to change room than the dark clouds, which had been hovering over the Chinnaswamy Stadium since morning, opened. With the required par score being 86 for the loss of one wicket at that stage, Karnataka were declared winners by 60 runs via VJD method here on Friday.
Devudutt Padikkal was out without at least a fifty after five matches but K L Rahul (52, 72b, 5x4) continued his form with another unbeaten half-century. While Padikkal ended as the top run-getter in the tournament with 609, Rahul finished with 598. Making his job easier after Padikkal’s early dismissal was Mayank Agarwal, who raced to an unbeaten 69 (55b, 7x4, 3x6) in a spectacular display of stroke-making. The duo had put on 112 in as many balls when the proceedings were stopped not to be resumed.
It didn’t help Tamil Nadu’s cause that their skipper Dinesh Karthik, who opened the attack with off-spinners Washington Sundar and R Ashwin, took the latter off the attack after just two overs. Defending only 252, the visitors needed to take wickets upfront to apply any pressure and Ashwin was their best bet to do so. Karthik, however, operated with his pacers in the hope that they would exploit the overcast conditions and held back his premier bowler for later overs which were washed away in sharp showers.
That said, the Karnataka batsmen looked in absolute control of things in the middle. Rahul had two close shaves – once when caught at point and then when Murugan Ashwin deflected a straight drive from Mayank Agarwal on to stumps when he was backing up – but the replays ruled the decisions in his favour. As has been his approach through the tournament, the stylish right-hander provided the solidity at one end while Agarwal stayed aggressive. While the India Test opener’s drives through the cover region oozed confidence, his pulls even when given very little room showed his ability improvise at the last moment. The pace at which he batted, shut the door on Tamil Nadu and handed Karnataka their fourth Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Asked to bat first, TN lost opener M Vijay and a promoted R Ashwin early in the piece but the inform Abhinav Mukund (85, 110b, 9x4) and Baba Aparajith (66, 84b, 7x4) saw through the tough period when pacemen Mithun and V Koushik (2/39) were making the ball talk in favourable overhead conditions. The left-right duo shared 124 runs (138b) for the third wicket and gave a good platform for a final push but TN lost batsmen in a cluster in the death – including a hat-trick of wickets in the last over by Mithun who turned 30 on the day – to end up with a total that proved to be a walk in the park for the in-form Karnataka batsmen.