KOLKATA, March 16 (IANS): Karnataka overcame early batting blues to lift the Vijay Hazare trophy by fashioning a four-wicket victory over Railways and complete a triple title triumph in the domestic cricket season here Sunday.
After restricting Railways to 157 in 47.4 overs, Karnataka seemed in a crisis at 47/5, but recovered to reach a winning 158/5 with 42 deliveries yet to be bowled at the sparsely crowded Eden Gardens.
While Abhimanyu Mithun, later adjudged player of the match, emerged the bowling hero with a haul of 4/19 in 9.4 overs, Karun Nair (53 not out; 86b, 4x4) and wicketkeeper-batsman Lokesh Rahul (38; 72b, 4x4) shone in the popping crease for Karnataka who followed up on their Ranji trophy and the Irani trophy titles in 2013-14.
With half the side back into the pavilion within the 12th over, Rahul and Nair built a cautious 66-run stand off 118 balls for the sixth wicket to change the course of the game in Karnataka's favour.
When Rahul - who had earlier taken four catches and effected one stumping - departed in the 32nd over, Kunal Kapoor (24 not out; 45 b, 2x4) gave company to Nair for an unbeaten 45-run partnership that saw Karnataka through.
But the beginning of the Karnataka innings seemed anything but sound. Railway pacers Krishnakant Kashyap (3/30) and Anureet Singh (2/41) derailed the Karnataka top order as wickets fell at short intervals.
But just when it seemed that Railways would make a match of it, Nair and Rahul got together to scuttle their opponents' chances.
In the morning, Mithun struck crucial blows to unsettle the Railways middle and later order batsmen during his second and third spells.
The Railwaymen fell into a rut in the first ten overs, when they meandered to collect only 20 runs in the powerplay.
This put them under pressure, and save for Rongsen Jonathan (46; 57b, 3x4), the others failed to get their act together to retrieve the situation.
Railways: 157 all out in 47.4 overs (R Jonathan 46, A Ghosh 33; A Mithun 4/19).
Karnataka 158/6 in 43 overs (K Nair 53 not out, L Rahul 38; K Upadhyay 3/30, Anureet Singh 2/41).