Understanding the intricacies of format vital: Rahil Shah ahead of TNPL

With the latest edition of the league kicking off on Friday, TN senior selection committee member and a player in the league outlines what the youngsters need in order to be a success
Left-arm spinner Rahil Shah
Left-arm spinner Rahil Shah(File photo | D Sampath Kumar, EPS)

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), arguably the best domestic T20 league in the country, will begin on Friday at Salem with defending champions, LYCA Kovai Kings, taking on Chepauk Super Gillies in the tournament opener.

The eighth edition of TNPL will see eight teams fighting for the crown. Thirty two matches will be played across five venues. While Salem, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli and Dindigul will be hosting 30 games, the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai will be hosting the 2nd qualifier and final of the tournament on August 4.

All the eight teams have some match winners in their ranks and expectations are bound to be high as this format has gained immense popularity with India winning the T20 World Cup.

LYCA Kovai Kings have been the team to beat in the last two editions. They were joint-winners with Chepauk Super Gillies in the 2022 season and were champions in the 2023 season.

They have retained the majority of their squad for this season and have signed just three players in the auction. They have a good mix of youth and experience in their ranks with M Shahrukh Khan as the captain. Their ace batter B Sai Sudharsan will miss a few games as he is on national duty in Zimbabwe. Manimaran Siddharth and Jhathavedh Subramanyan could be the players in the bowling department.

Chepauk Super Gillies, the league's most successful team, will be the other team to look out for. They had a below par 2023 edition and they will be hoping for an improved performance this time around. They have brought in players like Abhishek Tanwar, Aswin Crist, Periyasamy G, Daryl Ferrario to strengthen the team. And they have retained the likes of Baba Aparajith,  N Jagadeesan, M Silambarasan and Pradosh Ranjan Paul. On paper, they look a formidable side and could potentially challenge for the title.

Veteran left-arm spinner Rahil Shah, who is part of the State senior selection committee, is also a player with Chepauk Super Gillies and insisted that the league will be crucial for youngsters who wish to play for the state.

"The TNPL is a very important tournament. It has gone on from strength to strength and its quality has also improved over the years. As a selector, I will be looking at youngsters who perform well in all the disciplines of the game. We want to watch quality cricket,'' he said.

"Being a player is also a blessing in disguise as I can watch the players from 22 yards. I can see what goes through their minds and how they react to situations," added the genial spinner.

Shah gave a glimpse of what the selectors will be looking at. "A player should be good at his craft. Must be able to understand the intricacies of T20. Plus, what is most important is the player's ability to handle pressure."
Shah also spoke about the importance of approaching the innings sensibly based on when the players enter the crease.

"Strike rate is very important but it depends upon what time and position the player is coming in to bat. We will not blindly follow the strike rate. If a player is opening, he must be consistent and pace the innings and stay till the end. If a player comes in the middle overs, he must hang around and try to finish the job. Basically, we would like to watch the approach and how he finishes the job,'' signed off Shah.   

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