TNPL: The buzz is back

TNPL, in its first season, certainly managed to create a buzz, particularly in the districts. It enabled the game to spread its wings in the State. The second edition could grab eyeballs too.

Even without outstation cricketers, the TNPL proved engaging in its first season.   -  R. RAGU

There will be no shortage of sixes when the second edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) kicks off here on Saturday.

There have been heated debates in recent times over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s “waning powers” as a big-hitter and a ‘finisher’ but the celebrated former India captain will be here to participate in a six-bashing contest along with Matthew Hayden and others ahead of the inaugural game between defending champion Albert Tuti Patriots and Dindigul Dragons.

READ: Balaji won't play for Patriots

The M. A. Chidambaram Stadium is familiar territory for Dhoni. In the past, he has struck gold here both as captain and batsman for India and the Chennai Super Kings.

 

And with CSK coming back into the IPL fold after two years, Dhoni’s return to Chepauk — his bastion really — has symbolic significance.

Will the franchise have this iconic cricketer – the CSK fans do share an emotional connect with Dhoni — back in its fold in 2018?

With IPL not around for two years at Chepauk, the TNPL gave the cricket-starved aficionados of the game’s shorter variety much to cheer about last season.

The competition certainly managed to create a buzz, particularly in the districts. In a smart move, the TNCA decided to have Tirunelveli and Natham as venues along with Chennai.

The response from the crowds out there was overwhelming. And emerging cricketers from those parts got interested. The TNPL did enable the game to spread its wings in the State.

While it is debatable whether the TNPL can help develop players for the Ranji Trophy where the skill set needs to be different, it played a role in the State cricketers become fitter, stronger and sharper for the shorter formats; Tamil Nadu triumphed in the Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy one-day tournaments.

And with the TNPL providing opportunities and a platform to cricketers across the State, several youngsters emerged. N. Jagadeesan impressed with his fearless batting, T. Natarajan delivered incisive toe-crushers, Kaushik Gandhi blended solidity with calculated aggression and Washington Sundar excelled with his cool head and tight off-spin.

Even without outstation cricketers, the TNPL proved engaging. And the second edition could grab eyeballs too.

In Saturday’s lung-opener, Tuti Patriots will be without Lakshmipathy Balaji (for the whole season), Abhinav Mukund (till the knock-out phase) and Dinesh Karthik (he will play from August) but still possess a well-rounded side with the likes of Kaushik Gandhi, Washington Sundar and Aushik Srinivas.

And Dindigul Dragons is an exciting outfit with Jagadeesan and Natarajan in its ranks. Sparks could fly.

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