TNPL 2019: In-form Madurai takes on Ashwin-less Dindigul for a place in final

Dindigul Dragons' skipper Ravichandran Ashwin will miss the TNPL 2019 Qualifier 2

Defending champion Siechem Madurai Panthers' batsman in blazing form opening the innings with 345 runs at a strike rate of 149.35.   -  a shaikmohideen

Two ambitious sides will wade into each other but the biggest name in the mix will be missing in action. India star R. Ashwin will not be available for Dindigul Dragons against defending champion Siechem Madurai Panthers in Tuesday’s Qualifier II of the Tamil Nadu Premier League.

Ashwin has to be in Mumbai by 10 a.m., as per BCCI diktat, on Wednesday to join cricketers travelling to the West Indies for the Test series.

And he would not be able to reach Mumbai on time given the flight timings in Madurai in case he plays Tuesday’s game here.

The loss of its inspirational captain is a blow to the Dragons against the combative Panthers on a surface that could offer some movement and bounce to the pacemen and a measure of assistance to the spinners.

This contest could be intriguing and the Dragons, even without its skipper, is a forceful outfit with depth and options.

Openers N. Jagadeesan (398 runs so far) and the left-handed C. Hari Nishaanth (267) have dismissed attacks ruthlessly.

Jagadeesan, who averages a whopping 79.6 in this edition, is a natural stroke-maker. Strong on the cut and the pull, he can lean into his drives as well.

Hari Nishaanth is a stylish bat with more than a hint of the lazy left-hander elegance. He has displayed greater application this season.

And then Dragons has some useful strikers of the ball in the middle-order such as R. Vivek. In the lower order, seamer M. Mohammed is a heavy hitter.

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But then the Madurai Panthers, which prevailed in a last-ball thriller against V.B. Kanchi Veerans in the Eliminator, has a useful attack.

The lively Kiran Akash, Abhishek Tanwar and J. Kousik form a pace attack that can contain and strike. Then there is the experience of left-arm spinner Rahil Shah.

And Panthers’ K.B. Arun Karthik has once again been in blazing form opening the innings with 345 runs at a strike rate of 149.35. Destructive and creative, he can leave bowlers with bruised egos.

Tanwar, a batsman with both power and game sense, and the feisty Kousik, a fine finisher, are both match winners.

The Dragons has the wily M. Mohammed, R. Rohit and the pacey B. Praanesh in its pace pack. And M. Silambarasan has caught the eye with his left-arm spin.

The stage is set for a gripping duel. At stake is a place in the final.