TNPL: Kaalai still in the hunt after with a 7-run victory

Opener Vishal Vaidhya's knock was instrumental in getting Karaikudi Kaalai to 150. Thereafter, Mohan Prasath's four-wicket haul got the team home against Dindigul Dragons.

Vishal Vaidhya's 37-ball 41 set up Karaikudi Kaalai's win.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Karaikudi Kaalai missed out on the last-four berth by a whisker last year. And, its skipper S. Badrinath was determined to seal it with ease this time around. But the team, with only four points to boast, obviously had to beat Dindigul Dragons to stay on track. And, it did the same, defeating a fighting Dragons by seven runs in the Tamil Nadu Premier League at the ICL grounds in Sankar Nagar here on Monday.

The absence of an injured opener S. Anirudha hurt Kaalai badly. But Badrinath fielded a fresh pair in Vishal Vaidhya (41, 37b, 2x6, 2x4) and R. Rajkumar. But the latter failed to fire, spooning a simple catch to Adithya Arun at mid-on off the bowling of T. Natarajan.

A few balls later, it could have been further trouble for Kaalai had G. S. Raju held on to an easy picking offered by R. Srinivasan at backward point.

But he did not last long. Pacer Adithya Arun bowled a short one and Srinivasan failed to control the pull and top-edged it to Ashwin Venkataraman at short midwicket.

However, the ever-consistent Vishal played calmly and, scored quick. He slog-swept off-spinner Wilkins Victor for a huge six and connected a similar delivery bowled by Adithya for a maximum over mid-wicket. But Wilkins, later, had the better of him with an away going delivery. Vishal trying to cut loose mistimed the shot and Ashwin from point was quick to complete the catch. A flurry of wickets followed by some lusty hits helped Kaalai to a total of 150 for seven.

The Dragons were pretty lucky in their chase. Subramania Siva was dropped twice by Mohan Prasath and Lokeshwar and the bowler to suffer on both occasions was Sonu. There was also a couple of misfields. But from there Siva and Raju kept pushing the scoreboard nicely before the former departed caught by Prasath at short fine leg off the bowling of Ganapathi Chandrasekar.

Jagadeesan and skipper Ashwin followed suit and the required run-rate swelled. Kaalai tightened the screws at this stage. With left-arm spinner Prasath coming up with a deserving four-wicket haul and when it mattered most it was all over for the Dragons.

Brief scores:-

Karaikudi Kaalai 150 for seven in 20 overs (Vishal Vaidhya 41, S. Badrinath 26, M. Shajahan 20, Wilkins Victor two for 29, M.S. Sanjay two for 32) beat Dindigul Dragons 143 in 20 overs (G.S. Raju 27, R. Vivek 32, Mohan Prasath four for 22, Ganapathi Chandrasekar two for 39).