Baba Aparajith's unbeaten 118 helped VB Thiruvallur Veerans notch up its first win against Karaikudi Kaalai in the second match of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) at NPR College Ground in Natham, Dindigul on Thursday.
Chasing 166 in 20 overs, Aparajith and Malolan Rangarajan (30) helped the side seal an emphatic five-wicket win. Aparajith’s knock showed his dominance as he scored 118. His half-century came in 34 deliveries. It took him only 23 more deliveries to reach his century which also included 12 fours and six sixes. He went from 88 to the three-figure mark with back-to-back sixes.
Veerans was in trouble early on during its chase when Ganapathy Chandrasekhar struck early to send back Hari Nishaanth with a short bouncer. Kaalai was on top after picking three early wickets before Aparajith changed the course of the match. He smashed Sujay Sivasankaran for 22 runs in the 10th over. From then on, Aparajith fearlessly attacked every Kaalai bowler as he bought his team closer to the target.
Aparajith’s intent was clear right from the beginning when he smacked 19 runs off the fourth over bowled by Kiran Akash. He added 45 runs off 28 balls for the fourth wicket with R. Kavin before Rajkumar Ravichandran broke the partnership. It proved to be a blessing in disguise as Malolan, who joined Aparajith in the middle, kept rotating the strike and punished the loose deliveries. The duo together put on 55 runs in 34 balls before Malolan was out with 13 runs required to win.
For the Kaalais, M. Vijay Kumar donned the role of the aggressor even as Anirudha Srikkanth looked to rotate the strike early on. Abhishek Tanwar then sent back Anirudha trapping him in front. R. Srinivasan was aggressive and hit Jagannath Sinivas for three fours in his very first over. The pair of Kumar and Srinivasan put on 69 runs in 52 balls for the second wicket as Veerans tried to slow down the run rate.
Rahil Shah (1 for 27) kept it tight as the batsmen found it difficult to get going off him. Malolan Rangarajan (2 for 18) introduced only in the twelfth over of the match, struck in his second over giving the much needed breakthrough for the Veerans. Malolan then removed Kaalai’s skipper Badrinath, who was out while trying to paddle sweep.
Srinivasan (50), who survived a tight run-out call, got to his half-century before holing out to N. S. Chaturved at long-off. Rajkumar. R (34) and Ganapathy accelerated in the 18th over, scoring 22 runs off R Rohit. Kaalai scored 41 runs off the last 20 deliveries but in the end that was not enough thanks to Aparajith’s late blitz.
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