Lyca Kovai Kings hands Dindigul Dragons first defeat

Chennai: Lyca Kovai Kings’ left-arm bowlers S Ajith Ram and Thangarasu Natarajan ended Dindigul Dragons’ winning streak in the fourth season of the Tamil Nadu Premier League with telling blows at the India Cements-Sankar Nagar Ground here on Wednesday.

Left-arm spinner Ajith Ram, logged figures of 4-1-12-2 while left-arm pacer Natarajan (4-1-15-2) was equally effective as LKK defended a modest total of 134 with aplomb. Together the left-armers knocked off five wickets in the Powerplay itself resulting in DD being bowled out for 99 in 18.5 overs for a 35-run victory.

The win that fetched two points for LKK does not guarantee them a Playoff spot. Their fate depends on how VB Kanchi Veerans fare in their last match against Ruby Trichy Warriors. If VBKV win, LKK will be knocked out despite having the same number of points – eight — as Baba Aparajith’s team will automatically have a better net run rate, irrespective of the margin of victory, than Abhinav Mukund’s men (0.255). VBKV’s current NRR is 0.575.

S Sujay, playing his first match of the season, was the top scorer for DD with 34 runs off 46 balls. It was the first defeat in seven matches for DD, who were without their inspirational captain Ravichandran Ashwin for the first time this season.

Defending a modest total of 134 runs, LKK made a stunning start with Ajith Ram dismissing DD’s prolific run-getters C Hari Nishaanth and Narayan Jagadeesan for ducks in the first over, that was also a maiden. Nishaanth was bowled while Jagadeesan inside-edged a delivery onto his stumps.

LKK’s star bowler Natarajan then hurt DD more with a double strike in his first over, that was also a maiden. He first ran out Sumant Jain (10) at the striker’s end and then found Rohit Ramalingam chopping an angled-delivery onto his stumps.

After six overs, DD’s scorecard read a sorry 20-4, which was not only their lowest Powerplay score of the season but also the lowest in TNPL. Their previous lowest was 21-3 against the same opponents in 2016. Natarajan’s maiden over meant there were three such overs in the match, which was another first in the tournament’s short history.

Brief scores: Lyca Kovai Kings 134-8 in 20 overs(M Shahrukh Khan 30, Abhinav Mukund 21, Pradosh Ranjan Paul 43; Rohit Ramalingam 2-14, Baaskaran Praanesh 3-29) beat Dindigul Dragons 99 all out in 18.5 overs (S Sujay 34, M Mohammed 19; S Ajith Ram 2-12, Thangarasu Natarajan 2-15, S Manigandan 3-21) by 35 runs.

NT Bureau