A disciplined bowling effort followed by V. Ganga Sridhar Raju’s quickfire knock (49 n.o., 40b, 4x4, 3x6) helped Lyca Kovai Kings to a 20-run win (DLS method) over Siechem Madurai Panthers in the rain-affected Eliminator match of the Tamil Nadu Premier League here at the Salem Cricket Foundation ground on Tuesday.
Chasing 127, Kovai Kings was 72 for no loss at the end of 9.5 overs when rain stopped play after its bowlers restricted Madurai Panthers to just 126/7.
Kovai was well ahead of the DLS par score of 52 and booked its place in the second qualifier to be played in front of its home crowd in Coimbatore on Friday.
From the first over, Raju went after the Panthers’ pacers and punished the bowlers whenever they erred in length on the shorter side.
The diminutive left-hander got going by pulling Sunny Sandhu for a six over the fine leg fence before he cut Kiran Akash and left-arm spinner P. Saravanan for boundaries.
Raju then pulled Kiran Akash for a six, over mid-wicket before cutting left-arm pacer V. Gowtham over point for another maximum to get his side past 50 in the seventh over.
Earlier, electing to bat, Panthers batters struggled against Kovai bowlers who took the pace off their deliveries on a slow pitch.
Opener K.B. Arun Karthick made an unbeaten 47 (51b, 2x4) but struggled to find the boundaries despite carrying his bat through. The experienced batter always looked to hit only through the leg-side but never found his timing and often found the fielders in the deep.
The batters at the other end tried to take on the bowlers but had limited success and eventually perished going for big ones.
Shahrukh Khan led his side extremely well using his four main bowlers including himself up front looking for wickets and was brave to use his spinners in the PowerPlay.
Mystery spinner B. Suriya (1/21) got the first breakthrough when he had opener V. Aditya cut straight to the short-third man fielder before left-arm spinner S. Ajith Ram accounted for the in-form B. Anirudh.
Skipper N.S.Chaturved (16) and J. Kousik (17) tried to give the innings some momentum finding two boundaries each before being caught in the deep.
Losing wickets at regular intervals meant the Panthers could not exploit the weakness of Kovai Kings in attacking the latter’s fifth bowler and ended up with a sub-part total that proved inadequate.
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