Chennai: From a team that entered into the third edition of the TNPL looking for their first victory that had eluded them for the last two seasons, Madurai Panthers capped off a brilliant season by emerging as the champions, defeating Dindigul Dragons by seven wickets in the finals, here on Sunday.
Chasing a target of 118, Madurai was in for a shock with three wickets falling in the space of four balls during the very first over bowled by 19-year-old left-arm spinner T Silambarasan.
He trapped Thalaivan Sargunam and captain D Rohit plumb in front and induced an edge off the willow of Tushar Raheja that was caught neatly at the slips. All the three batsmen did not trouble the scores and it raised the spirits of Dindigul Dragons.
However, the pair of Shijit Chandran ( 38 n.o., 3×4, 1×6) and KB Arun Karthik (75 n.o., 4×4, 1×6), went on with the process of stitching together a 117-run partnership that saw their team lift the TNPL trophy for the first time.
Arun Karthik was at his best as usual as he remained calm at the crease and did not try out anything fancy. He and his partner just ensured that the run rate remains stable with ones and twos.
Arun Karthik brought up his sixth fifty of the tournament off 41 balls and finished the chase in style with a boundary towards long off to hand Madurai their much-deserved title as champions.
Earlier, opting to chase Madurai Panthers got off to a rollicking start with the ball, picking up wickets at regular intervals. Dindigul’s in-form batsman Hari Nishaant was removed in the very first over by Abhishek Tanwar. In the next four overs Abhishek Tanwar and Lokesh Raj picked up two wickets each and by the end of the powerplay, Dindigul was left tottering at 33 for 5.
At that crucial moment, that too in a final, when stitching together a partnership to set a good total was the need of the hour, R Vivek played irresponsibly. He looked to attack and was even given a reprieve twice but he continued with the intent of hitting big shots and was caught the third time by a fielder at third-man.
At 42-6 R Rohit joined Jagadeesan at the crease and the pair went on to add few runs on the board and stitched together a partnership of 43 runs. Once Rohit fell, Jagadeesan was entrusted with the responsibility of getting the team post a decent total and he continued to play strokes and brought up his fifty in the 18th over.
He was bowled in the next over by mystery spinner CV Varun as he looked to play an expansive slog sweep. Apart from Abhishek Tanwar and Lokesh Raj who took seven wickets between them, CV Varun bowled beautifully as Dindigul batsmen struggled to score runs off his bowling. He conceded just
nine runs in his four overs and picked up two wickets.
During the last over, M Mohammed hit two sixes before giving away his wicket to take the total to 117, which was easily chased down in the end.