TNPL: Anirudha shines in Karaikudi’s big win

The captain scores a belligerent half-century to lead his team to a 47-run win over Chepauk Super Gillies at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Hammer and tongs: Srikanth Anirudha struck four fours and four sixes in his 28-ball knock.   -  M. Vedhan

Srikkanth Anirudha may have played his last first-class match in 2010 but his Twenty20 self-discovery is for real. The attacking opener, in a rich vein of form in the ongoing edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League, yet again made the difference as Idream Karaikudi Kaalai beat Chepauk Super Gillies by 47 runs at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Saturday.

Set a target of 194, the Super Gillies batsmen didn’t seem to have a plan. The team lost both the openers, Ganga Sridhar Raju and Sunny Kumar, inside 18 runs. Yo Mahesh’s inswing surprised Raju, who edged behind to R. Kavin for a duck. Mohan Prasath, who announced his intentions with a maiden over, cleaned up Kumar in his second.

Super Gillies skipper H. Gopinath (47 off 38 balls; three fours and two sixes) put on a brave show to withstand Mahesh’s ferocious swing but he ran out of partners. Uthiraswamy Sasidev (23) and S. Karthik (7) were both back in the dressing room with eights overs to spare.

Slow left-arm bowler Maan Bafna broke Gopinath’s resistance. He threw his wicket trying to sweep a ball outside off; the ‘keeper was quick to safely pouch the top edge. Murugan Ashwin remained the unsung hero with his unbeaten 33 off 24 balls, a knock which comprised two sixes. Mahesh, with an economy of 5.25, stood out among the Karaikudi Kaalai bowlers.

Aggressive Anirudha

Earlier, electing to bat, Karaikudi Kaalai reached for the stars, led handsomely by skipper Anirudha. The right-hand opening batsman struck a 28-ball 56 (four fours and four sixes) that set the tempo for the visitor.

Anirudha continued the onslaught he left incomplete two days ago in Dindigul. The seasoned campaigner smashed an unbeaten 93 off 49 balls against VB Kanchi Veerans and on Saturday, his approach didn’t look any different. Though batting first, he kept chasing personal targets.

Read: M. Ashwin admits to a plan that failed

The plan to attack Ashwin upfront turned out to be a masterstroke. The leggie had to step aside after a one-over spell. Introduced into the attack in the second over, Ashwin leaked 13 runs, including a six and a four, which shut his case in the PowerPlay.

Read: Anirudha injury isn't serious, says Shajahan

Off-spinner B Arun, who started the proceedings for the Super Gillies, was taken off, too. He, however, staged a comeback, causing the first breakthrough. V. Aditya’s honeymoon period from the non-striker’s end halted at 10 off 19 balls; he was plucked by R. Vishaal at fine leg.

Acrobatic Ashwin

Intimidated by Anirudha, the Super Gillies spinners couldn’t hold on to their line even for a few seconds. After six wide balls, a six and a four in consecutive overs between Arun and R. Alexander, Anirudha fell to one of those signature acrobatic boundary catches seen in Twenty20 cricket. This time, Ashwin, at long-on, avenged the butchery of his economy rate by flying to his right to embrace the ball. As soon as he realised he was behind the rope, he threw the ball in the air to claim a smart rebound. A slight niggle in the calf had perhaps forced Anirudha to go for the kill.

Left-hand batsman Bafna (31) and M. Shajahan held their nerves to periodically steal boundaries. While the latter remained unbeaten on 43 off 20 balls (two fours and four sixes), Alexander finally proved a point trapping Bafna in front of the stumps at a crucial juncture.

The ball prior to the breakthrough was a dropped chance and the one after, a no-ball dismissal. Rajhamany Srinivasan had got a life at deep mid-wicket, and Shajahan hit the ball straight to Alexander, who overstepped.

Arun (2 for 29) and S. Harish Kumar (2 for 36) were the pick among the Super Gillies bowlers.

Super Gillies is likely to bolstered by the presence of Vijay Shankar in the next game as the all-rounder, a star player for the defending champion, is back from the tour of England.

Karaikudi Kaalai now has two wins out of three.

Brief Scores
  • Idream Karaikudi Kaalai 193 for 5 in 20 overs (Anirudha 56, Shajahan 43*; Arun 2 for 29, Harish Kumar 2 for 36) beat Chepauk Super Gillies 146 for 6 in 20 overs (Gopinath 47, Ashwin 33*) by 47 runs.

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