TNPL: Kovai Kings steals a last-ball thriller

B. Anirudh was the hero on the night with his stroke-filled 43-ball 69. He was ably supported by the returning skipper Murali Vijay (69 off 44).

Anirudh Sita Ram starred in Lyca Kovai Kings's win with a 43-ball 69.   -  M. VEDHAN

LYCA Kovai Kings pulled off a dramatic last-ball win over VB Thiruvallur Veerans to keep its hopes alive of clinching a play-offs berth in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) here on Saturday.

B. Anirudh Sita Ram was the hero on the night with his stroke-filled unbeaten knock of 69 from only 43 balls. He was ably supported by the returning skipper Murali Vijay (69 off 44) and Akshay Srinivasan (38 off 24) as the Kings chased down the highest total in the tournament history.

With five required off the last ball of the match, Abhishek Talwar appeared to have won the match for the Veerans with a superb yorker. Anirudh could only manage to dig it out, which the bowler promptly fielded. The umpire, however, ruled the delivery a no-ball. 

Anirudh and Harish tried to sneak a single amidst the confusion, which forced Talwar to make a wayward shy at the stumps. A resulting overthrow allowed two vital runs to be completed.

The left-hander then lofted the free-hit straight to Baba Aparajith at long-on, who shelled it. The misfield meant Harish Kumar could complete the second run with ease. The sequence sparked wild celebrations in the Kings’ dugout and in the stands.

With needing a win to stand a chance of finishing in the last-four, LYCA Kovai Kings opted to bowl. The side needed some good fortune going into this fixture having lost two of its matches to inclement weather conditions.

Dropped catches and errors on the field allowed Aparajith (60 off 31) and Talwar (55 off 22) to plunder 82 runs in the last five overs which included 10 sixes. Having survived a run-out scare, Talwar went on to score the fastest fifty of the season.

Veerans posted a daunting 196 on the board - the highest total of the season. The target would have proved to be a mountainous task for the best of teams let alone the struggling Kings.

After scoring only 21 in the first four overs of the chase, Kings pulled ahead of the required rate with 81 in the next six overs. Vijay and Anirudh showcased the cleanest of ball striking in their 104-run partnership from only 60 deliveries.

Vijay looked in fine touch while hitting the balls along the line of the delivery and was starting to take control of the chase. Just as the opener looked set to take the Kings to only its second win of the campaign, his slog sweep of left-arm spinner Sanjay Yadav ended in the hands of the cover-point fielder.

The skipper’s wicket brought a lull in the ensuing two overs which shot the asking rate past 12 an over. The stage was then set for the 22-year-old Anirudh and he seized the chance.

This win puts the Kings level on points with the Veerans, with the latter still possessing a favourable net run rate. Although, the Kings have a game in hand and the momentum to go on to seal the last remaining play-offs spot.

 

Brief Scores

VB Thiruvallur Veerans 196 for 6 in 20 overs (Baba Aparajith 60, Abhishek Tanwar 55 n.o.; K. Vignesh 2 for 29) lost to LYCA Kovai Kings 197 for 3 in 20 overs (Anirudh Sita Ram 69 n.o., Murali Vijay 69,  Akshay Srinivasan 38; Sanjay Yadav 1 for 23) by 7 wickets.