KL Rahul led the charge for Karnataka in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in the Elite Group A match against Kerala in Bengaluru on Saturday by recording his highest score in List A cricket.
Put in to bat after losing the toss, Kerala struck early to reduce the home side to 30/2 at the end of the ninth over however, Rahul remained resolute at the other end. He put on an 84-run partnership with captain Manish Pandey who raced to a quick fifty while the Kings XI Punjab star held his end firmly.
"If we get to bat first, then the first 10-15 overs is a bit of a challenge," Rahul reasoned. "It's like playing the first session in a red-ball game.
"That's also a good challenge for me because I need to work on my game. Obviously, you have to stay a lot more disciplined and can't get ahead of the game. I don't think it's just a cakewalk to come and get runs here, you still have to work hard."
From 114/2, Karnataka then soon found themselves at 150/4 with Rahul having crossed his 50 amidst it off 68 balls. It was then he decided to up his scoring rate as he forged a 98-run stand with Shreyas Gopal, who only contributed 29 in the partnership.
Rahul's 100 came in 108 deliveries after which he smashed 31 off the last 14 balls he faced, which included his dismissal at the start of the 43rd over.
"My plan was to bat till 40-45 overs, and I wanted to stick to that," Rahul said. "I just want to stay disciplined with my shot selection, get time in the middle and enjoy my batting again.
"You had to work hard. I had to play 100-110 balls to get that hundred."
His 131 off 122 balls, with 10 fours and 4 sixes, was his highest score in the One Day format, surpassing the 111 he had scored against Sri Lanka in the World Cup match at Leeds earlier this year.
"This kind of innings gives you more confidence," he pointed out. "I want to challenge myself in difficult conditions, work on my technique... So, to come back here and work on it, to get quality opposition and to get runs against them feels very good."
Karnataka were eventually bundled out for 294 and won the match by 60 runs as Kerala folded for 234.