Tirunelveli: Madurai Panthers survived a big scare at the hands of bottom-placed iDream Karaikudi Kaalai in the Tamil Nadu Premier League match at the India Cements-Sankar Nagar ground here on Thursday.
In a low scoring match where 18 wickets fell, SMP huffed and puffed to get past the victory target of 94. After bowling out iDKK for 93 in 20 overs, SMP scored 97-8 in 18.1 overs for a two-wicket win.
Both teams finished their league engagements of the season in a contrasting manner. SMP’s win, fifth in seven matches, earned them a second spot while iDKK continued to languish at the bottom. SMP’s final position in the standings will only be known today when the last two matches of the league will be played. Chepauk Super Gillies, who have eight points from four matches, will push SMP to the third spot if they defeat Tuti Patriots.
Chasing 95, SMP was in danger of losing their Playoffs spot at one stage, having lost five wickets for just 40 runs on the board. Had they been bowled out for 52, SMP would have ended with a net run rate lesser than Lyca Kovai Kings (+0.255). And if VB Kanchi Veerans, who have a better NRR than LKK and SMP, defeated Ruby Trichy Warriors on Friday, the defending champions would have got knocked out.
SMP captain Shijit Chandran (25 off 25 balls, 1 four, 1 six), who had the highest score in the match, ensured they crossed the danger mark with some sensible batting.
His partnership of 26 runs off 27 balls, with opener A Sarath Raj (14 off 13 balls, 1 six) was also the highest in the match. Despite their dismissals, No.7 N Selva Kumaran (21 off 19 balls, 3 fours) and No.9 Kiran Akash (18 not out off 12 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) saw the side through to the finish after some tense moments.
After 15 overs, SMP were at 73 for 8, needing another 24 runs off 30 balls. Kiran Akash broke the shackles with a four and six in the 17th over bowled by Sunil Sam. No.8 Ramachandran Mithun finished the match in the next over by hitting left-arm spinner M Shajahan for a four.
Sunil Sam (2-21) along with left-arm spinners S Mohan Prasath (2-23) and Maan K Bafna (2-20) troubled SMP the most. All three bowled a maiden over each, creating a new record in the tournament for the most number of maiden overs bowled in an innings.
Brief scores: iDream Karaikudi Kaalai 93 all out in 20 overs(V Aaditya 14; Kiran Akash 3-23, N Selva Kumaran 2-17, Rahil Shah 3-13) lost to Siechem Madurai Panthers 97-8 in 18.1 overs (Shijit Chandran 25, N Selva Kumaran 21, Kiran Akash 18 not out; Sunil Sam 2-21, S Mohan Prasath 2-23, Maan K Bafna 2-20) by two wickets.