Defending champions Karnataka were led by dominating half-centuries from Devdutt Padikkal and KL Rahul as they registered a dominating 8-wicket win over Haryana in the first semifinal of the 2019 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and booked their spot in the summit clash of the competition.
Padikkal was at his absolute best as the youngster top-scored with a 42-ball 78 while KL Rahul made the most of the good batting strip on offer as he made a 31-ball 66, and the duo combined to put on a 125-run stand for the opening partnership that effectively batted Haryana out of the game.
Chasing a stiff 195-run target, Karnataka's openers got their side off to a top start, accumulating 49 runs from the first four overs, including 23 runs off the fourth over from seamer Ashish Hooda that piled the pressure on the bowling team.
Rahul, in particular, was at his aggressive best as his assault on the pacers forced Haryana skipper Amit Mishra to introduce Yuzvendra Chahal into the attack, only for Rahul to smash two sixes and collect 19 runs from Chahal's first over.
Karnataka raced away to 82-0 at the end of the powerplay overs, post which Rahul brought up his half-century from just 21 balls as the Haryana bowlers looked devoid of plans to stem the flow of runs.
Padikkal and Rahul brought up their century stand from just 7.4 overs, post which the young southpaw brought up his 5th half-century of this edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy off just 24 balls, in a knock comprising of 7 fours and 2 sixes.
Haryana's lone moment of respite came in the 10th over as Jayant Yadav speared a good length ball wide and despite Rahul's best efforts to get to the pitch of the ball, the opener flat-batted the ball down to long-on, where Bishnoi took a low diving catch to send Rahul back for a well-made 31-ball 66 laced with 4 fours and 6 sixes.
At the halfway stage, Karnataka found themselves in the driver's seat on 128-1, with the Manish Pandey-led side needing just 67 runs to win from the last 10 overs.
Mayank Agarwal continued from where Rahul left off as the former picked two sixes off Haryana skipper Amit Mishra and brought the required rate under 6 RPO. Padikkal and Agarwal brought their 50-run stand off just 23 balls that brought the equation down to just 15 runs needed from 40 balls.
Just as Padikkal looked to bat through and carry his side over the line, the youngster holed out to deep mid-wicket in the 14th over and was sent back to the hut for a 42-ball 87, comprising of 11 fours and 4 sixes.
Agarwal and Manish Pandey then joined forces in the middle as they made quick work of the remaining runs and took just seven more deliveries to finish off the 195-run chase in 15 overs.
Earlier, Haryana made a sizzling start to their batting effort as their openers Harshal Patel and Chaitanya Bishnoi made the most of the powerplay overs restrictions to collect 64 runs without losing their wicket from the first six overs.
Harshal Patel, in particular, punished the wayward lengths bowled by the Karnataka pacers as he scored a quick-fire 20-ball 34 before he skied the ball up towards long-on, where Karun Nair took a well-judged catch as Shreyas Gopal celebrated his first wicket off only his fourth ball.
Gopal then struck with the first ball of his second over to trap Shivam Chauhan plumb in front and gave away just seven runs from that over to hand Karnataka some momentum in the game.
Despite two quick wickets, Bishnoi continued to pile on the runs as he got to his half-century off 32 balls and looked set for a big score before his decision to set out for a quick single found no response from his partner, and the southpaw was run out for a 35-ball 55 in the 13th over.
The onus was on the big-hitting pair of Himanshu Rana and Rahul Tewatia to take their side to a formidable total, with Haryana on 135-3 from 15 overs, and the platform well set for some quick runs in the slog overs.
Abhimanyu Mithun's 17th over proved to be extremely costly for Karnataka as the experienced pacer gave away 18 runs from the over, including three boundaries as Rana and Tewatia brought up their half-century stand, a 27-ball unbeaten 52 with three overs to go.
Rana brought up his half-century in the third ball of the 18th over as he smoked Ronit Moreover long on for a maximum, bringing up his half-century off just 29 balls and collected two more boundaries in the same over that saw More finish with expensive figures of 0/51 from four overs.
Mithun made a strong comeback in the 20th over as he claimed four wickets from his first four balls, removing the dangerous Rana (34-ball 61) and Rahul Tewatia (20-ball 32) from his first two balls and then completed his hat-trick by removing Sumit Kumar off his third ball.
Haryana skipper Amit Mishra was Mithun's next victim as the veteran spinner failed to real the lack of pace on the short ball and offered a simple chance to K Gowtham stationed at covers.
The Karnataka pacer bowled a wide ball in his fifth ball before Yadav drilled the next legal ball towards deep covers for a run. Jitesh Saroha failed to score off the last ball of the innings as he looked for a paddle sweep, only to lob it straight to KL Rahul, who gleefully accepted the offering that saw Haryana finish with 194-8 from their allotted 20 overs.
Brief Scores: Karnataka 195-2 from 15 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 87, KL Rahul 66, Harshal Patel 1/28) beat Haryana 194-8 from 20 overs (Himanshu Rana 61, Chaitanya Bishnoi 55, Abhimanyu Mithun 5/39) by 8 wickets.