The surfaces at Chepauk had bounce, carry and movement in this edition’s earlier TNPL games bringing back old memories.
But then, with so many matches being played, the pitches are beginning to become slower and a tad double-paced in nature. The challenges, thus, before the cricketers are like a revolving door – they keep changing.
It meant the in-form Sai Sudharsan, who had struck the ball like a dream in the earlier matches, had to apply himself for a 52-ball 61 for Lyca Kovai Kings against Siechem Madurai Panthers at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday.
In the end, Lyca, holding its nerve defending 172, was home by 19 runs.
The decisive innings of the match came from Lyca skipper Shahrukh Khan (58 not out off 30). Overcoming the challenges posed by the surface, he struck the ball with brutal force to power Lyca to 172 for five. Abhishek Tanwar’s 22 from 10 and then tidy seam bowling underlined his value.
For Panthers, J. Kousik impressed with his changes of pace.
N. S. Chaturved, with his cuts and punches, was the key man on the chase for the Madurai side.
His contest with the impressive Ajith Ram, the young left-arm spinner with an easy high-arm action and a very handy delivery that comes in with the arm, was going to be a key one. Eventually, Ajith took out Chaturved (39 off 26) on the sweep and this left Madurai with only Kousik to take the chase forward.
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Among the most improved cricketers in the State, the versatile Kousik, (29 off 15), struck the ball ferociously but was brilliantly held by Ashwin Venkataraman at deep cover off Tanwar.
This ended Madurai’s challenge.
In Wednesday’s earlier contest, S. Harish Kumar, after scalping two with his medium pace, delivered the big blows – he smashed a whirlwind 14-ball unbeaten 27 – when it mattered most in a high-pressure situation.
His effort powered Chepauk Super Gillies, chasing 143, to a four-wicket win over Salem Spartans in this pulsating duel, the first match of Wednesday’s double header at Chepauk.
Twists and turns
There were several twists in this engrossing duel. Heavy-hitter N. Jagadeesan (52 off 40) and the fleet-footed southpaw, U. Sasidev (42 off 30), both finding the gaps and clearing the field, kept Super Gillies in the hunt.
The two batsmen fell as tension mounted but Harish got the job done. He put away a short ball from Vijay Shankar for a six. And he launched into slinger Periasamy with a huge blow over mid-wicket.
Earlier, Super Gillies was dramatically reduced to 26 for four in a horror start.
Slinger G. Periyasamy fired out S. Sujay and S. Radhakrishnan – the latter fell to a pacey off-cutter – left-arm spinner Ganesh Moorthi took out Kaushik Gandhi with a change in trajectory and M. Ashwin had R. Sathish taken at slip.
In the first half of the match, Sonu Yadav found rhythm, generated lively pace and found some movement after Super Gillies elected to field. During his influential three for 21, he broke the dangerous fourth-wicket partnership of 56 between Vijay Shankar (32) and Spartans skipper Daryl Ferrario (39); both stroked freely.
At the start, K. H. Gopinath sparkled with a 24-ball 33 dotted with some lovely off-side strokes before falling to the crafty R. Sathish’s seam, making light of his 40 years.
Lyca Kovai Kings 172 for five in 20 overs (Sai Sudharsan 61, Shahrukh Khan 58 not out) bt Seichem Madurai Panthers 153 for eight in 20 overs (N.S. Chaturved 39, Ajith Ram three for 24, R. Diwakar three for 18) by 19 runs.
Points: Lyca 2; Panthers 0
Player of the Match: Shahrukh Khan
Salem Spartans 142 for seven in 20 overs (Daryl Ferrario 39, K. H. Gopinath 33, Vijay Shankar 32, Sonu Yadav three for 21) lost to Chepauk Super Gillies 145 for six in 18.5 overs (N. Jagadeesan 52, U. Sasidev 42, S. Harish Kumar 27 n.o.).
Points: Super Gillies 2; Salem Spartans 0
Player of the Match: N. Jagadeesan