THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Riding high on incisive pace-bowling spells from debutant G Periyasamy and T Natarajan, Tamil Nadu trumped Kerala by 37 runs in a Group B encounter of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament at St Xavier’s College Ground in Thumba on Friday. Tamil Nadu, who had lost the toss in the morning and were sent in to bat, managed to post a challenging target of 175 after lower-order batsmen M Mohammed and Shahrukh Khan plundered runs towards the end of the innings to help the team overcome a sedate start.
Openers Murali Vijay and Narayan Jagadeesan were removed cheaply by Basil Thampi and KM Asif, respectively. Baba Aparajith and Dinesh Karthik held fort without further breach, but momentum was infused into the innings only after Mohammed and Khan joined hands. Mohammed made an 11-ball 34 that included three sixes, while Khan struck two maximums in his 28 off 18 to take the visitors past 170, which was looking unlikely till the 16th over. The late flourish of Khan and Mohammed broke Kerala’s back as they pilloried 62 off the final four overs.
However, the real difference between the two sides were Periyaswamy and his mentor Natarajan, as they scythed through the Kerala batting line-up grabbing three wickets apiece. Periyasamy drew first blood by dismissing skipper Robin Uthappa, who miscued a shot while trying to jack up the scoring rate.
The in-form Vishnu Vinod and Rohan Kunnummal steadied the ship, but failed to stay on. Sachin Baby and the hard-hitting Mohammed Azharuddeen stuck together for a while in the middle, but the asking rate kept climbing upwards.
Periyasamy, who had lost sight in his right eye due to illness in childhood, kept the batsmen under a tight leash with his slingers. Natarajan too kept them guessing by varying his lines and lengths. In the last four overs, Kerala required 52. But the ended at 137 for 8. Delhi match washed out inclement weather resulted in Delhi’s Group E match against Gujarat in Surat being abandoned.