Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Tamil Nadu misses out on Super League despite easy win

Following Vidarbha’s victory earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu needed to defeat Meghalaya by 197 runs to qualify as one of the two teams from Group B.

Murali Vijay scored a century for Tamil Nadu against Meghalaya in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2019.   -  Vijay Soneji

Riding on a century of some bright strokeplay from the inform Murali Vijay, Tamil Nadu crushed Meghalaya by 92 runs at the Lalbhai Stadium on Saturday, but as the surge in run-rate arrived rather late, Tamil Nadu was left with too much to accomplish, even against a lightweight.

Following Vidarbha’s victory against Gujarat earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu needed to defeat Meghalaya by 197 runs to qualify as one of the two teams from Group B to the Super League stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Vidarbha topped the group with five victories and 20 points and Gujarat finished second with 16 points and a net run-rate (NRR) of 1.28. Tamil Nadu lost out on NRR, finishing fourth after Himachal Pradesh, with 16 points and a NRR of 0.397.

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TN coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar said “We did not play the key moments of the tournament well. There were occasions when we allowed partnerships to build. We need to combine better as a team.”

The hapless Meghalaya was easy meat for the side though. Batting first, Tamil Nadu powered to 213 for two with Vijay notching up a pleasing 107 (67b, 9x4, 5x6). Vijay and the left-handed Washington Sundar (53, 37b, 5x4, 2x6) put on a hectic 139 for the first wicket in 14.1 overs.

Vijay was elegant and cultured with his strokes in a format that usually demands brute force. The right-hander dissected the Meghalaya attack with rapier-like shots, smoking the ball through the gaps and clearing the field effortlessly, whether easing the ball over the cover fence or flicking it beyond the mid-wicket ropes. His initial set-up and footwork working smoothly, Vijay followed his 77 against Himachal and 74 against Vidarbha with a three-figure knock. He celebrated with a little jig as well.

The right-left combination of Vijay and Washington has plenty of possibilities. Washington, a compelling striker of the ball, created a base and the space for expansive strokes off his rear foot.

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In the final overs, the big-hitting R. Vivek thumped the Meghalaya attack with a 14-ball unbeaten 36 (4x4, 2x6).

Meghalaya was never really in the hunt on the chase. There were some runs for skipper Puneet Bisht (27) and Gurinder Singh (38 not out, 30b, 5x4). Leggie Murugan Ashwin, bowling to a good rhythm, was among wickets.

The scores:

Tamil Nadu 213 for two in 20 overs (M. Vijay 107, Washington Sundar 53, R. Vivek 36 not out) bt Meghalaya 121 for four in 20 overs (Puneet Bisht 27, Gurinder Singh 38 not out, M. Ashwin two for 16).