TNPL 2019: Madurai Panthers prevail by two wickets in low-scoring thriller

Siechem Madurai Panthers survived a big scare at the hands of bottom-placed iDream Karaikudi Kaalai in their 4th Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 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 on Friday, 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.

Fast bowler Sunil Sam provided a sensational start for iDKK by dismissing SMP’s top scorer KB Arun Karthick with the first ball of the innings and then trapping wicketkeeper batsman Nilesh Subramanian leg before wicket, three balls later.

Down 0-2, SMP struggled to get going with the iDKK bowlers sensing an opportunity to cause a big upset. SMP were 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 the dismissals of Chandran and Sarath Raj, 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 down for the count 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) alongwith 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.

Earlier, SMP left-arm spinners N Selva Kumaran (2-17) and Rahil (3-13) weaved a web of discomfort around the iDKK batsmen to bowl them out for a sub-100 total. Off-spinner Ramachandran Mithun also played a part by claiming one wicket for 16 runs from his four overs. Fast bowler Kiran Akash, too played a part, claiming three lower order batsmen for 23 runs to become the leading wicket-taker of the tournament with 14 wickets.

Both Shah and Mithun bowled their quota at one go, during a period where runs were hard to come by. For 11 overs, between the fifth and 16th, no boundaries came off the bat with the only four coming off a leg-bye.

iDKK captain Aniruda Srikkanth (13 off 17 balls, 2 four) was the first to go, bowled by Kumaran. His partner at the other end, Varadharajan Aaditya (14 off 25 balls, 1 four), was the top scorer in the innings, where only four batsmen could reach double figures.

Shah dropped two catches to let off the openers Aniruda and Aaditya but he overcame that lapses with a fine spell, all his victims being left-handed batsmen. Aniruda was dropped when he was on 8 by Shah, failing to latch on to a lofted drive at deep cover off Kiran Akash and then he spilled a hot return catch off Aditya, when he was 8.

Earlier, iDKK made four changes to the team that lost to Lyca Kovai Kings with opener V Aaditya, all-rounder Ashwin Balaji, left-arm spinner S Mohan Prasath and fast bowler Aswath Mukundan coming in place of L Surya Prakash, R Srinivasan, S Swaminathan, R Rajkumar.

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.