Dindigul: Siechem Madurai Panthers secured their maiden appearance in the TNPL final as KB Arun Karthik with not out 79 starred in their victory over Lyca Kovai Kings in Qualifier 2 at the NPR College ground in Natham (Dindigul) on Friday, 10 August.
Top two sides from the league stage will square off against each other in their first-ever final as Siechem Madurai Panthers will once again face the challenge of Dindigul Dragons at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai on Sunday, 12 August.
Chasing 126 runs against an in-form Kovai Kings\92 bowling attack, the Panthers lost their first two wickets within the Powerplay. KB Arun Karthik, however, stood resolutely at the crease and accelerated at the right moments to clinch a famous win for the team.
Finishing the chase for the team, KB Arun Karthik played a scintillating unbeaten inning of 79(56b,8×4,4×6). Captain Rohit D played the supporting role with a steady knock 30(37b,2×4).
Earlier in the night, choosing to bat first in the all-important clash, the Kovai Kings slipped to 11-2 in the third over with the medium pacer Abhishek Tanwar taking both the wickets. The remaining inning of the Kovai Kings was dominated by two crucial partnerships.
Captain Abhinav Mukund 28(30b,3×4) added 49 runs in 53 balls for the third wicket partnership with Ashwin Venkataraman 45(50b,4×4,1×6), the latter further constructed a stand of 57(45b) for the fifth wicket with MP Rajesh 29(24b,2×4,1×6).
The Panthers then snared three wickets in the final over to halt the Kovai Kings for 125/7 in 20 overs.
“We kept losing wickets at critical moments. We were thinking 150 and fell 20 runs short. Arun Karthik played a brilliant innings. We had a couple of chances, but it happens. All the best for Madurai. It has been a very competitive tournament where six teams had the chance of qualify,” said losing captain Abhinav Mukund.
After playing a responsible knock to see his team get through to the finals, Arun Karthik said that it was an important innings for him and dedicated the victory to Dr. Karunanidhi as they were the owners of the franchise last time.
“Lyca are good at defending totals and it was a challenge. The plan was to bat out the first six overs without giving away too many wickets. My plan was to play it as a four-day game. I was just telling him (Rohit) to keep it simple; watch the ball and react to the ball, not to overthink. I just wanted to dedicate this victory to Dr. Karunanidhi as they were the owners last time,” he said.