TNPL 2019: R. Ashwin in focus as Super Gillies face Dindigul Dragons in opener

The tournament will be inaugurated by India cricketer Kedar Jadhav at the NPR College grounds in Natham on Friday.

Chepauk Super Gillies players during a practice session for the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) at NPR College Cricket ground on Thursday.   -  G. Karthikeyan

T. Natarajan, Washington Sundar, Varun Chakaravarthy…they figure among the exciting talents who shot to fame owing to the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) over the last three seasons, and went on to hog the limelight at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions.

The list is expected to grow in the fourth edition of the Sankar Cement-TNPL beginning at the NPR College grounds in Natham on Friday.

TNPL 2019: Complete schedule

The picturesque ground will be hosting the inaugural match of the tournament for the first time. India cricketer Kedar Jadhav will inaugurate the tournament.

True to its philosophy of promoting cricket in the districts, the TNPL has allocated 15 matches each to Natham and Tirunelveli this year. It is reflective of the increase in the number of matches conducted in these centres. TNPL will be spreading its wings next year as Coimbatore has been confirmed as another venue.

Kaushik Gandhi, captain of Chepauk Super Gillies, during a practice session for the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).   -  G. Karthikeyan

  Big hits over the fence, smart bowling and nail-biting finishes have kept the audience, who fill the stadiums to the brim, hooked.

After Tuti Patriots and Chepauk Super Gillies clinched the title in the first two editions respectively, last year saw a fairytale finish for Siechem Madurai Panthers. The Madurai side, which could not win a single game in the first two seasons, went on to become the champion. And the architect of the team’s extraordinary triumph was K.B. Arun Karthick.

READ: How Madurai found its roar in TNPL 2018

Panthers will be without mystery spinner Varun, the find of TNPL 2018, as he is yet to recover from injury. “It is a big loss to the team. But we still have players who can do the job,” said Karthick, who will captain the side.

In the opener, Super Gillies takes on last year’s runner-up Dindigul Dragons. While the former champion will be led by Kaushik Gandhi, since India all-rounder Vijay Shankar is yet to recover from a toe injury, the home team will be helmed by star off-spinner R. Ashwin.

“Ashwin’s experience and leadership qualities are a big advantage for our team,” said M. Venkataramana, head coach, Dindigul Dragons. “As he will be playing the entire tournament, it will help us achieve our aim of winning the title,” he added.

Super Gillies versus Dragons is expected to provide an electrifying start to the tournament which will conclude on August 15.

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