Punjab flatten listless Karnataka

Punjab flatten listless Karnataka

BLAZING KNOCK Punjab's Anmolpreet Singh en route to his 138 against Karnataka on Monday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Karnataka’s campaign ended the way it had begun – in a crushing defeat.

The hosts, asked to bat first in their final Group ‘A’ Vijay Hazare Trophy match, might have thought they had put enough on the board to test a strong Punjab batting line-up after posting 296 all out in 48.2 overs. The Mandeep Singh-led side, however, made short work of the target racing to six-wicket victory (297/4) in 48.5 overs here at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Monday.

The mammoth opening stand of 198 runs off a mere 187 balls between Anmolpreet Singh (138, 106b, 12x4, 5x6) and Shubman Gill (77, 93b, 7x4, 1x6) was the cornerstone of Punjab’s successful chase. The right-handed duo toyed with the home attack which had, for some strange reason, three specialist spinners and a part-timer in it. All of them came under the gun as Anmol went berserk while Gill played an ideal foil without being too circumspect.

Their association effectively killed the contest before the veteran Yuvraj Singh applied finishing touches with a measured 38 that had the sparse but vocal crowd in thrall.

Karnataka after an excellent start and an equally productive middle phase, failed to accelerate in the last eight overs to end up with a way lesser total than they appeared to make. The new opening combination of R Samarth (54, 59b, 8x4) and BR Sharath (70, 69b, 9x4, 1x6) got off to a rollicking start adding run a ball 115 in an entertaining stand. Manpreet Gony, who limped off the field after just 2.5 overs, left the Punjab attack with a bowler short that Karnataka cashed in on.

With Barinder Sran (3/48) and Siddharth Kaul not having the best of starts, Karnataka batsmen made merry in perfect batting conditions. Sharath essayed some flowing cover drives and well-timed sweeps while Samarth picked the area between third man and deep backward square -leg to gather his runs, either ramping or cutting the ball. It was Yuvraj who separated the pair with a faster one that beat Samarth’s attempted slog-sweep to rattle the timber.

That had little impact on Sharath who continued to bat with refreshing freedom. At the other end, Karun Nair (28, 44b, 2x4) looked comfortable but was perhaps more cautious than that was needed, especially given the start they had. Sharath was second to go miscuing lofted shot off Mayank Markande. With skipper Manish Pandey (67, 60b, 4x4, 2x6) linking up with Nair at 140/2, Karnataka kept the pressure on Punjab. The introduction of Kaul, however, for his second spell paid handsomely for the visitors as the medium pacer removed Nair and Mir Kaunain Abbas in successive overs.

With Pandey just showing signs of settling in and Shreyas Gopal fresh at the crease, keeping Kaul in the attack would have been a logical move but Mandeep took him off the attack and with that the pressure. Pandey and Shreyas (37 off 29) then rattled off 82 runs in 63 balls as Karnataka raced to 200 in just 36.2 overs. A total of 330 seemed a distinct possible before Kaul, combining with Sran, put paid to hosts’ aspirations. Returning for his third and final spell, Kaul dismissed Shreyas, Aniruddha Joshi and Pradeep T to complete a five-for as Karnataka lost five wickets in the last 4.2 overs for the addition of just 25 runs.