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Mayank, Nair guide Karnataka to big win

Following a poor batting display from Maharashtra, the Karnataka openers Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair showed the way to bat at the placid track and turned the Vijay Hazare semifinal into a hopelessly one-sided affair at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here on Saturday.

Karnataka’s nine-wicket victory, with nearly 19.3 overs to spare, sealed its place in the final. On February 27, Karnataka will take on the winner of Sunday’s semifinal between Andhra and Saurashtra.

Once Maharashtra collapsed from 95 for two to 160 all out, Mayank and Nair built an opening stand of 155. With Karnataka just a stroke away from getting the winning run, Mayank was caught behind off left-arm spinner Satyajeet Bachhav.

“It’s quite hurtful (not to remain unbeaten),” admitted Mayank later and continued, “Obviously, a not-out does a lot of good. Now, I will have to live with it.”

Mayank, though disappointed, had continued his rampaging form. His 86-ball 81 included a first-ball six and eight boundaries. In fact, the six over square-leg off Pradeep Dadhe helped Mayank break Srivats Goswami’s record of 14 sixes in one season of this competition.

From the other end, Nair produced a 90-ball 70, studded with 10 boundaries, to play his part to perfection. But, on this afternoon, Mayank’s record-breaking effort pushed the skipper’s effort into the background.

When on 56, Mayank became the batsman with most runs in a season, in this 50-over competition. He erased Dinesh Karthik’s record of 607 set here last season.

Reflecting on the record, Mayank said, “Obviously, it’s a great feeling to have got these runs. Honestly, it’s an even better feeling that these runs have contributed to Karnataka’s win. Contribution to a winning cause makes more sense.”

Reflecting on his prolific run this season, Mayank said, “It is all about understanding your game and what is expected of you. Then you know how to go about things. If your role is defined, it makes the job easier. To be honest, I feel I am in the ‘zone’. I am in a good mind-space and want to stay there. I am not thinking too much. I am not trying too much. I am resp

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