CHENNAI: Riding KB Arun Karthik’s 75 not out, Siechem Madurai Panthers defeated Dindigul Dragons by seven wickets to win the third edition of Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) on Sunday. It capped a glorious comeback, considering that this team had lost all matches in the first two editions.
Even the final looked like slipping away from the Madurai team. Chasing a lowly 118 to win, they lost three wickets in the first over. All three fell for ducks. But Karthik put his experience to great use and bailed his side out from 2/3 in the company of P Shijit Chandran. Karthik played 50 balls, hitting four sixes and fours apiece. Shijit’s unbeaten knock of 38 came off 49 deliveries, with three fours and a six.
Karthik did not panic and played the waiting game to perfection. He picked the right deliveries to attack and guided Shijit. “Karthik has been one of the outstanding performers this season. He has played lot of cricket in the districts and knows the conditions well,’’ complimented S Sharath, chairman of the Tamil Nadu selection committee.
Karthik had said on Saturday that his top-handle grip helped him strike the ball well. This was evident in the way he deftly handled the attack. The match-winning and unbroken partnership of 117 came off 16.2 overs.
Earlier, put into bat, Dindigul Dragons got off to a disastrous start. They lost five wickets with just 21 on the board. All the batsmen perished due to poor shot selection. Skipper N Jagadeesan remained calm and waged a lone battle at one end. Madurai captain D Rohit shuffled his bowlers and maintained pressure on their opponents by taking wickets at quick intervals.
“There were quite a few notable performances in this edition. Among the youngsters Varun Chakravathy, Vivek Raj, Hari Nishanth, NS Chaturved, Trilok Nag were impressive,” said Sharath. “Varun is sharp, accurate and economical. He was a good foil to Rahil Shah, who also gave a good account of himself.”
Other than youngsters, this edition of the TNPL also saw a bunch 30-plus players put in good performances. S Anirudha, S Suresh Kumar and C Ganapathy were some of them. “There were some notable performances from senior players. Anirudha was impressive. In the last two years he had not been in peak fitness. If he takes care of that part, he will get an opportunity to play for the state again,’’ opined Sharath.
Brief scores: Dindigul Dragons 117 in 19.5 ovs (N Jagadeesan 51, Abhishek Tanwar 4/30, Lokesh Raj 3/31, Varun Chakravarthy 2/9) lost to Siechem Madurai Panthers 119/3 in 17.1 ovs (KB Arun Karthik 75 n.o, P Shijit Chandran 38 n.o, M Silambarasam 3/23).