Chasing a tricky score of 282, Rajasthan were reeling at 23/3 in 5.5 overs. Hooda led from the front as he entered into a decisive 255-run partnership with 19-year-old Karan Lamba (73 not out off 112 balls).Hooda’s knock, which was laced with 19 4s and five 6s, is the highest individual score against Karnataka in the domestic one-dayers.
The duo overpowered the bowlers with quite an ease and finished the match with six overs remaining. Karnataka captain Mayank Agarwal acknowledged in the post-match presentation that ‘they (Hooda and Lamba) kept dominating us, countering every change we made’.
It is after 17 years that Rajasthan have made it to the final of the Hazare Trophy. They last played a final in the 2006-07 season when they lost the summit clash against Mumbai by 72 runs. They will be up against Haryana in the final scheduled to be played in Rajkot on November 16.
This is turning out to be a good season for 28-year-old Hooda who is currently the third highest run-getter of the tournament with 480 runs to his name in 8 matches. Hooda was also the highest run-scorer for Rajasthan in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2023-24 where he made 179 in 5 matches. The national selectors must be keeping an eye on him. The dashing middle-order batter last played an ODI in November 2022 and his last T20 international appearance was in February this year.
Earlier, having decided to bat first, Karnataka batters were kept on a tight leash for half of the innings by Rajasthan’s pace attack. But later, middle-order batters Abhinav Manohar and Manoj Bhandage counter-attacked, taking their team to 282/8 in 50 overs.
Putting up an exhibition of a wide range of shots, Manahor and Bhandage mustered 91 off 80 balls (10×4, 3×6) and 63 off 39 balls (3×4, 5×6) respectively. Until 25 overs, Karnataka struggled to even get the strike rate to four, but it was over eight in the last 10 overs.
Bowling his first over, left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary brought the first breakthrough when Karnataka captain edged to the ‘keeper in the 6th over. It was a wicket maiden for the veteran who impressed with his line and length. The 33-year-old finished with figures of 10-1-43-2.
It was an abject batting display by the Karnataka top-order as they were reduced to 87/4 in 22.5 overs.
Certainly, Karnataka needed more from their batters and bowlers to overcome the Hooda-Lamba duo.