Photo: BCCI

KL Rahul struck form for Karnataka at the right time.

In the Vijay Hazare Trophy quarter-final against Puducherry on Sunday, Rahul scored a fluent 90 off 112 balls (8x4s, 1x6) as they chased 208 for victory at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

He put on 98 for the opening wicket with Devdutt Padikkal in 19 overs, which set the tone of the chase. Rahul added another 88 with Rohan Kadam before he got out in the 38th over with the score at 186/2. That proved enough as Karnataka cruised to an eight-wicket win with nine overs to spare and went through to the semi-finals.

On Wednesday, he missed another chance to score a century. In the semi-final match against Chhattisgarh in Bengaluru, Karnataka was chasing 224 for the victory and Rahul, who scored a hundred against Kerala late last month in the tournament, delivered yet again.

Another solid opening stand with Padikkal meant that the pair put on 155 before Padikkal made his exit in the 31st over. Rahul then teamed up with Kings XI Punjab teammate Mayank Agarwal, who scored a double century and a ton in the recently-concluded series against South Africa, to take the team home by nine wickets and 10 overs to spare.

Agarwal raced through in his 33-ball 47, hitting three 4s and four 6s that included three successive maximums, while Rahul was left unbeaten on 88 (111b, 6x4s, 1x6).

Rahul, too, picked up his pace towards the end with the 27-year-old sealing the match in style with a straight lofted-six off pacer Pankaj Rao.

Keeping wickets in both matches, Rahul also took three catches in each game.

In the other semi-final at the Just Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, Tamil Nadu beat Gujarat by five wickets in a rain-shortened 40-over match.

Bowling first, it was Ravichandran Ashwin who provided the breakthrough for Tamil Nadu in his first and the innings' fourth over when he had opener Priyank Panchal stumped. Flown in straight after the Ranchi Test against the Proteas, the off-spinner gave away just 21 runs in his eight overs while KXIP teammate Murugan Ashwin recorded figures of 1/33 in six.

Gujarat scored 177/9 in their 40, which Tamil Nadu chased down with five wickets and an over to spare.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will meet in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday.