TNPL: Karaikudi Kaalai wins but loses out on semifinal berth

Karakudi Kaalai

Tamil Nadu Premier League R. Srinivasan Karaikudi Kaalai

R. Srinivasan of Karaikudi Kaalai scored an unbeaten 61 to steer his team home against Ruby Kanchi Warriors, in Tirunelveli on Wednesday.   -  R. Ragu

Karaikudi Kaalai, desperately looking for a playoff berth, played quite recklessly at the start before pulling off a three-wicket win over Ruby Kanchi Warriors in the final league clash of the India Cements Tamil Nadu Premier league at the ICL grounds here on Wednesday.

The victory was not a sweet one though as the Karaikudi boys were expected to chase down a target of 121 in 70 balls for a place in the last four.

The target did not seem a heavy one as the team had quite a few big hitters in its ranks. But it turned out to be a miserable journey under lights as its batsmen failed to sparkle.

Karaikudi lost four wickets, including its skipper S. Badrinath, in the space of eight balls. Medium pacer J. Kaushik and off-spinner M. Prabhu shared two wickets apiece to leave the opposition tottering at three for four in two overs.

To add fuel to fire, Kaushik picked one more in his next over. Though R. Srinivasan (61 n.o, 43b, 7x4, 1x6) and M. Shajahan (32, 31, 2x4, 1x6) built a partnership of 69 for the sixth wicket, the hopes of making it to the playoff went up in smoke for the team.

Earlier, the Kanchi Warriors batsmen, barring J. Kousik (25, 21b, 3x4), did not do anything extraordinary as well. Opener Bharath Shankar was dropped by Badrinath at covers off the bowling of Mohan Prasath. But as luck would have it, Prasath came back strongly to remove him in his next over. This time Ganapathi Chandrasekar made no mistake. He ran a few yards before latching on to a skier at long on.

Medium pacer Ganapathi accounted for Nilesh Subramanian in the eighth over. The latter fell in a similar fashion. Skipper B. Indrajith failed to inspire as well. He was rattled by left-arm spinner Suresh Babu and the Kanchi scorecard read 41 for three in nine overs.

Badrinath smelt a winning chance and set an attacking field. He also quickly compensated for the dropped catch by effecting a brilliant run out of M. Shahrukh Khan from short covers. And, Kanchi had lost three wickets in the space of five runs and managed to find the ropes only twice.

Varun Kumar soon found his way to the pavilion. This time, M. Vijayakumar was quick on his feet. He ran quite a distance, picked up the ball from fine leg and threw it to keeper Anirudha, who did the rest.

Even as wickets kept falling at regular intervals, Kousik stood his ground. He did not do anything silly. He defended well and punished only those loose deliveries that came his way. But after showing much patience, he ran himself out. Two more wickets and a few lusty hits at the death saw the Warriors complete its assignment with a total of 120.

In the semifinals, to be played after a day’s break, Dindigul Dragons will take on Albert Tuti Patriots in Tirunelveli on September 16 followed by the Chepauk Super Gillies versus Lyca Kovai Kings clash at Chepauk the next day.

The scores

Ruby Kanchi Warriors 120 for eight in 20 overs (J. Koushik 25) lost to Karaikudi Kaalai 122 for seven in 18.5 overs (R. Srinivasan 61 n.o., M. Shajahan 32, J. Kaushik three for 29, M. Prabhu two for 20).