Bengaluru: Pacer S Sreesanth and opener Robin Uthappa stole the show as Kerala crushed Bihar by nine wickets in a crucial Vijay Hazare Trophy match here on Sunday.
Chasing a target of 149, Kerala romped home in just 8.5 overs.
With an eye on the net run rate, Kerala openers Uthappa and Vishnu Vinod went hammer and tongs. Vishnu departed after a 12-ball 37 with the total on 76. Uthappa continued his merry run in the tournament as he smashed an unbeaten 87 off just 32 balls, while Sanju Samson remained undefeated on 24 off nine balls. Uthappa hit 10 sixes and four fours in his blazing knock.
The emphatic victory meant Kerala ended their Elite Group C fixtures with 16 points, courtesy four wins from five games and are in with a big chance to reach the quarterfinals. Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh who also have 16 points each finished first and second ahead of Kerala on net run rate. Karnataka are assured of a place in the quarterfinals.
The toppers in each of the five Elite groups qualify for the knockouts along with three other teams from the combined points table. The eighth-placed team in the rankings after the league stage take on the winners of the Plate Group in the pre-quarterfinals scheduled for March 7.
Earlier, Sreesanth struck early after Kerala captain Sachin Baby opted to field. The veteran sent back openers Mahrour (1) and S Gani (0) in his opening over.
Sreesanth returned to account for Rathour (3) and Vikas Ranjan (10) in his second spell as Bihar slumped to 74/5 in the 19th over.
Babul Kumar waged a lone battle for Bihar with a fine 64. His 89-ball knock contained six fours and three sixes.
Sreesanth ended up with figures of 4/30, while offie Jalaj Saxena, who opened the bowling, claimed 3/30 off his quota of 10 overs.
Pacer M D Nidheesh chipped in with 2/30.
Sreesanth had claimed 5/65 in Kerala's win over Uttar Pradesh.
Brief scores: Bihar 148 in 40.2 overs (Babul Kumar 64; S Sreesanth 4/30, Jalaj Saxena 3/30, M D Nidheesh 2/30) lost to Kerala 149/1 in 8.5 overs (Robin Uthappa 87 not out).
Points: Kerala 4; Bihar 0.