TNPL 2019: Kings hands Dragons first defeat of season

Left-arm spinner Ajith Ram and S Manigandan picked five wickets between them as Dindigul Dragons folded for a paltry 99.

S. Ajith Ram of Lyca Kovai Kings in action against Dindigul Dragons at ICL grounds in Tirunelveli on Wednesday.   -  A SHAIKMOHIDEEN

A brilliant spell of spin bowling in the Powerplay from S. Ajith Ram followed by left-arm pacer T. Natarajan’s fiery burst gave Lyca Kovai Kings a crucial 35-run win over Dindigul Dragons at the India Cements ground here on Wednesday.

Ajith's day out

Chasing a modest 135, Ajith Ram accounted for in-form openers C. Hari Nishanth and N Jagadeesan in the first over itself.

Natarajan then produced a brilliant piece of fielding off his bowling to run out Sumant Jain at the striker’s end before getting R. Rohit to play on one to the stumps. And when he got the dangerous Vivek Raj caught behind, rather fortuitously with a bouncer that seemed to come off the helmet, Dragons slumped to 29 for five (7.3 overs) from which it couldn’t recover.

In the final league game for both sides that was interrupted by rain briefly in both innings, Kings not only ended the Dragons' unbeaten run but also put itself in a good position to qualify for the playoffs finishing with eight points. This win means VB Kanchi Veerans needs to win its final game against Ruby Trichy Warriors, with the team on better net run rate going ahead.

Squandered start

Earlier, electing to bat, Lyca Kovai Kings squandered a good platform set by openers M. Shahrukh Khan and skipper Abhinav Mukund who put on a 50-run partnership (in 6.3 overs), and managed only 134 for eight in 20 overs on a good batting wicket.

Post the powerplay, Kings lost its way as it kept losing wickets with Pradosh Ranjan Paul only providing some momentum, top-scoring with 43 off 35 balls.

Medium-pacer Adithya Arun struck first in the seventh over, when Shahrukh who looked good until then (30, 27b), pulled straight to the deep-midwicket fielder before Praanesh came back strongly accounting for Abhinav after going for 17 runs in his first over.

After a shaky start, Pradosh looked his stylish best, stepping down to spinner Silambarasan and clearing him over midwicket before he went after the experienced M. Mohammed, taking the medium pacer for two boundaries and a six in the 16th over to put his side back on track for a competitive score. Once Pradosh was dismissed, Kings could add only 13 more runs.