Kolkata: Robin Uthappa slammed a 135-ball 133 to set up Karnataka's 21-run win over a spirited Jharkhand as the Ranji and Irani Trophy champions stormed into the Vijay Hazare Trophy final at the JU second campus ground in Salt Lake here today.
Ishank Jaggi kept Jharkhand in the hunt with a more belligerent ton hitting 144 from 121 balls in an 87-run partnership with skipper Saurabh Tiwary (47) but Karnataka skipper R Vinay Kumar (4/75) took two wickets in two balls after H S Sharath dismissed the centurion to restrict Jharkhand to 302/9 in the stipulated 50 overs. In pursuit of an unprecedented hattrick of titles at the domestic level, Karnataka will face the winners of Bengal and Jharkhand in the one-day tournament summit clash at Eden Gardens Sunday.
Earlier, Uthappa's masterclass knock laced with 12 boundaries and four sixes set the momemtum for Karnataka who were sent in on a batting friendly strip. Uthappa, who had struck 132 not out in their quarters against Gujarat, began from where he had left as he shared two century plus partnerships with Mayank Agarwal (66 from 67 balls; 9x4) and Lokesh Rahul (67 from 72 balls; 5x4) to propel Karnataka to 323/6. This was his second successive, 14th overall, List A century.
Uthappa was at his explosive best as he along with Agarwal had no trouble against the Jharkhand new ball bowlers Rahul Shukla and left-arm pacer Jaskaran Singh but a run out of Agarwal by Ishan Kishan broke the 137-run opening stand. But the Karnataka opener was not one to budge as he along with Rahul scored in brisk pace in their 128-run second wicket stand before Uthappa's fine innings came to an end.
After Uthappa's fall, Karun Nair provided the big push in the middle as his cameo of 26 from 17 balls with one four and two sixes ensured a challenging total. But Jharkhand rose to the challenge with Jaggi and Ishan Kishan giving a flying start. Jaggi put the fight on the Karnataka camp slamming 16 boundaries and four sixes as he along with the skipper took them to 104 runs shy of target from 78 balls and eight wickets in hand. Sharath castled Jaggi to give the vital breakthrough as Jharkhand lost the momentum losing four wickets in five overs as Karnataka continued their dream run.
Brief Scores: Karnataka 323/6 (Robin Uthappa 133, Lokesh Rahul 67, Mayank Agarwal 66; Rahul Shukla 3/59) b Jharkhand 302/9 (Ishank Jaggi 141, Saurabh Tiwary 47; R Vinay Kumar 4/75, Abhimanyu Mithun 3/52) by 21 runs.