R. Rohith’s spectacular unbeaten century — the fastest in the TNPL — helped Lyca Kovai Kings defeat Karaikudi Kaalai by four wickets in the Eliminator of the India Cements-TNPL at the NPRCET grounds here on Wednesday.
Chasing 194, Kings was 30 for two after four overs, losing opener L. Suryappakash and B. Anirudh Sita Ram. Left-arm spinner S. Mohan Prasath accounted for both the batsmen. R. Rohith (102 n.o., 46b, 6x4, 8x6), who joined his skipper and the other opener M. Vijay (34, 27b, 4x4), eased the pressure with some clean strikes as Kings managed 49 for two in the PowerPlay. While Vijay rotated the strike well, runs kept flowing from Rohith’s blade. Just when their partnership (68 off 38 balls) looked threatening, Vijay was run out by K. Vishal Vaidhya’s direct hit.
Akshay V. Srinivasan fell quickly as Kings was reduced to 99 for four in the 11th over. However, Rohith, who brought up his half-century off 23 balls, kept a cool head and continued to attack to help his team reach the victory target.
Earlier, put into bat, Kaalai raced to 36 for no loss after three overs, thanks to in-form S. Aniruda’s (79, 36b, 10x4, 5x6) aggressive batting. Kings could have dismissed Aniruda on 15 had Vijay held on to an easy chance at mid-on.
Aniruda, who cashed-in on the opportunity, continued to score at a brisk pace, dealing mostly in boundaries. V. Aaditya (31, 29b, 1x4, 2x6), who walked in at the dismissal of Vishal Vaidhya in the fourth over, provided good support to Aniruda as Kaalai scored 54 for one in the PowerPlay. After notching up his half-century off 27 balls, Aniruda scored his next 29 runs off just eight balls.
Kings got the much-needed breakthrough when Akshay V. Srinivasan took a catch, on the third attempt, off K. Gowtham Thamarai Kanann at long-off to dismiss Aniruda. However, the third-wicket stand between Aniruda and Aaditya (82 off 51 balls) had provided an excellent platform for Kaalai.
After the fall of Aaditya, skipper S. Badrinath (42 n.o., 25b, 5x4, 1x6) and M. Shajahan kept up the scoring rate. Their unbeaten 74-run partnership off 48 balls for the fourth-wicket helped Kaalai post 193 on the board.
Kings will meet Chepauk Super Gillies in Qualifier 2 at Tirunelveli on Friday.
The scores: Karaikudi Kaalai 193 for three in 20 overs (S. Aniruda 79, V. Aaditya 31, S. Badrinath 42 n.o., M. Shajahan 25 n.o.) lost to Lyca Kovai Kings 194 for six in 19 overs (M. Vijay 34, R. Rohith 102 n.o.).