Tirunelveli: Siechem Madurai Panthers squeezed a last-ball win over VB Kanchi Veerans at the India Cements-Sankar Nagar Ground here on Sunday to make it to Qualifier 2 of the 4th Tamil Nadu Premier League.
Chasing 152 runs for victory in the Eliminator, SMP attained the winning run on the last ball to finish on 152-5, for a five-wicket win. VBKV had earlier raised 151-6 in 20 overs on the back of a brilliant inning of 77 not out (52 balls, 6 fours, 4 sixes) from all-rounder Sanjay Yadav.
The defending champions will now meet last year’s finalists Dindigul Dragons in Qualifier 2 at the NPR College ground, Natham, Dindigul on Tuesday (13 August). DD had lost to Chepauk Super Gillies by five runs earlier in the day in Qualifier 1.
The seasoned KB Arun Karthick (64 off 39 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes) guided SMP’s chase despite surviving a close call in the third over. The 32-year-old was dropped on 10 by VBKV captain Aparajith. Barring that reprieve, Karthick was in cruise mode throughout his innings, latching on to the loose balls and scoring at a decent rate as well. Along with captain Shijit Chandran (21 off 25 balls, 3 fours), Karthick added 52 runs in 44 balls.
Chandran’s exit, gave a bit of hope for VBKV. They continued to hustle the batsmen and succeeded in picking two more wickets, including the prized scalp of Karthick. When Karthick was out, SMP still needed 37 from 52 balls. The VBKV bowlers, especially left-arm spinner NS Harish and pacer Suthesh conceded just nine runs in 12 balls to bring the equation down to 14 off six balls.
Jagatheesan Kousik (26 not out off 19 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) and Abhishek Tanwar (15 not out off 7 balls, 1 four, 1 six), who had kept SMP in the hunt after Karthik’s dismissal, overcame the tense moments with their 31-run alliance off 16 balls.
In the last over bowled by Yadav, Kousik broke free with a rousing six over deep mid-wicket and followed it up with a straight-driven four. It was down to one run off the last ball and Tanwar inside-edged a sweep to square leg for the winning run.
Meanwhile, Chepauk Super Gillies upset league toppers Dindigul Dragons with a superb display in the field to record a narrow five-run victory at the India Cements-Sankar Nagar ground here on Sunday and qualify for the final.
After opener Ganga Sridhar Raju (81 runs off 54 balls, 12 fours, 2 sixes), a former DD player, had powered CSG to 169-7 in 20 overs, their bowlers and fielders gallantly defended the total to restrict DD to 164-7 in 20 overs.
CSG will await the winner of Qualifier 2 to take them on in the final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai on Thursday (August 15). A delighted CSG captain Kaushik Gandhi hoped to carry the happy tidings from this game into the final as well. “We are very happy that we have gone to the finals, but I think that’s what is expected out of this team. It’s one step for us, another day in the field for us. We are looking to continue to take this momentum till the final,” he said.