Surat: Ahead of next month’s Twenty20 International series, KL Rahul smashed an unbeaten 84 to power Karnataka to a seven-wicket victory over Punjab in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament in Surat on Sunday (November 24).

Rahul, who is picked in both T20I and ODI squads for the home series against West Indies, hit seven fours and four sixes as Karnataka successfully chased down 164 in their Group B Super League game.

Pacer Ronit More bagged four wickets to help Karnataka restrict Punjab to 163/6 before Rahul's blazing 48-ball 84 enabled the team to reach the target with two overs to spare.

It was Karnataka's third successive win in the tournament. They now sit atop of the points table.

For Punjab, young opener Shubman Gill, who was released from the Indian Test squad, fell for 11. They also lost other opener Abhishek Sharma (5) cheaply to be reeling at 18-2.

Skipper Mandeep Singh (76 off 50 balls) held the innings from one end and took the team out of the rubble. Anmolpreet Singh (11) failed to convert his start as Punjab lost the third wicket with 55 on the board.

Gurkeerat Singh (44 off 32 balls) then joined his skipper in the middle as the duo conjured a crucial 88-run stand for the fourth wicket and steadied the ship.

While Mandeep hammered nine fours and two sixes, Gurkeerat played the perfect second fiddle and hit two boundaries and three maximums.

However, More pegged back Punjab with two quick wickets as they were restricted to 163/6.

In reply, Karnataka lost their in-form opener Devdutt Padikkal (2) early but Rahul played aggressively and hammered the opposition bowlers be it spinners or pacers.

Rohan Kadam (23) and skipper Pandey (33) also chipped in with the runs before Rahul, who struck seven fours and four sixes, took his side home in company of Karun Nair (23 not out).

Another win could help Karnataka make the semi-finals.

Brief scores

Punjab: 163/6 in 20 overs (Mandeep Singh 76, Gurkeerat Singh 44; Ronit More 4//27) lost to Karnataka: 167/3 in 18 overs (KL Rahul 84 not out, Manish Pandey 33; Mayank Markande 1/33) by seven wickets.

(With inputs from PTI)