Arun Karthik credits Panthers' ascendancy to a cordial atmosphere

Opening batsman K.B. Arun Karthik has undoubtedly been the vital cog in Madurai's campaign this season.

K.B. Arun Karthick took the onus and lead from the front to help the Panthers in its quest for a maiden TNPL title.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Siechem Madurai Panthers became the first team to cement its spot in the semifinal of the Tamil Nadu Premier League when it beat Karaikudi Kaalai a couple of days ago. That the team lost all its 14 matches played across two seasons makes its advent playoff spot even sweeter.

K.B. Arun Karthik has undoubtedly been the vital cog in Madurai's campaign this season. The veteran batsman — with a rich cricketing experience with teams like Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore — took the onus and lead from the front to help the Panthers in its quest for a maiden TNPL title.

Karthik credited the team's ascendancy to a cordial atmosphere. While he maintained that not much has changed from the disastrous two seasons, Karthik said that the team bonding this year has been excellent. "The camaraderie in the team has been top notch. We have had a great pre-season with rigorous drills over a month. We have a good blend in youth and experience, which I feel has been instrumental in all our performances so far," he told Sportstar.

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According to the opening batsman, meticulous planning played a pivotal role in the team's cause. "We had to forget the past and winning the tournament was the target. That gave us the motivation. Once we had our goal set, planning became easy and we executed them well," he added.

Though the team is on a five-match winning streak, Karthik knows that there is room for improvement. "We haven't changed the playing XI for the last five matches. We are doing the right things at the right time and that is how we have been successful. My concern lies in the death bowling, which we almost overcame in our last match. Having said this, I would love to see us do better at the death," he said.

Karthik's partnership with veteran Shijit Chandran has been the talking point for Madurai this season. "We have played with each other a lot, precisely from our U-19 days. We know each other very well. Shijit is an experienced campaigner, we had a common goal, we knew our roles and responsibilities and these have helped me to play my game when I am batting with him," Karthik explained.

He also credited the franchise owners for their support. "They have been in cricket for some time and they know how the game is played and how to run the team. That has been a big plus for us this season too," he concluded.