Nellai Royal Kings was in a spot of bother with 57 needed off 21 balls to qualify for the final. Nidhish Rajagopal was struggling to find the boundaries batting on 26 off 27 even as G. Ajitesh (73 n.o. 44b, 5x4, 5x6) was single-handedly keeping the side in the game with another swashbuckling innings.
It took a brave call by the Royal Kings management to retire Nidhish and get Rithik Easwaran (39 n.o., 11b, 6x6) in. Under tremendous pressure, the young left-handed batter showed a calm head and used his beautiful bat swing to do the talking with telling effect as Royal Kings beat Dindigul Dragons by seven wickets in a nail-biting Qualifier 2 of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) at the ICL ground on Monday.
With 37 needed off the last two overs, Rithik flayed G. Kishoor for three sixes down the ground off the first three balls of the 19th over. Ajitesh hit the fifth ball for a six before Kishoor delivered a no-ball off the last ball, allowing Rithik to scoop the final legal delivery over fine-leg as 33 came off that over.
However, Dragons did not go down without a fight as Subodh Bhati did his best to defend four runs in the 20th over, bringing the equation to one off the last ball. But Rithik finished the chase in style by depositing a low full toss over square-leg to ensure Nellai will meet Lyca Kovai Kings in the summit clash on Wednesday.
The chase though was set up by Ajitesh, who continued to impress with his attacking backfoot play and ensured the Nellai side kept up with the asking rate. The diminutive right-handed batter cut loose in the 15th over, hitting Kishoor for consecutive sixes by charging down the wicket, the second of which got him to his third consecutive half-century of the tournament.
Earlier, Shivam Singh continued his fine form in the tournament, slamming 76 (46b, 4x4, 6x6) to ensure Dragons ended up with 185 for five after being asked to bat first. Shivam and the left-handed M. Boopathi Vaishnav Kumar (41, 27b, 4x4, 1x6) added 81 for the second wicket partnership. However, Ajitesh and Rithik had other plans as they produced an exhibition of high-quality T20 hitting to take the home side into the final.
- Rohit Sharma becomes first batter to hit 50 sixes in ODI World Cup history during IND vs NZ semifinal
- IND vs NZ Live Score Updates, World Cup 2023 Semifinal: Rohit, Gill help India to quick start vs New Zealand
- Most sixes in ODI World Cup history: Rohit Sharma crosses Gayle; Maxwell, Warner in top five
- Richest badminton tournament gets even richer
- IND vs NZ Live Toss, World Cup 2023 Semifinal: India wins toss, elects to bat