TNPL: Super Gillies defeats Super Giant, inches closer to play-offs

Even as a ‘decently filled’ M. A. Chidambaram Stadium cheered for the K.B. Arun Karthik-led Madurai Super Giant, it slipped to a five-wicket defeat.

Thalaivan Sargunam played a crucial knock of 41 to ensure his side, the Chepauk Super Gillies, a hard fought win.   -  M. Vedhan

A change in name is not enough to change fortunes and the Madurai Super Giant seems to have realised it the hard way.

Coming into Sunday’s Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) game with a record of losing all its three matches, the Super Giant was hoping for a turnaround against the formidable Chepauk Super Gillies. But even as a ‘decently filled’ M. A. Chidambaram Stadium cheered for the K.B. Arun Karthik-led side, it slipped to a five-wicket defeat.

While this defeat — its fourth of the tournament — dashed Madurai’s chances of making it to the play-offs, it put the Super Gillies on the brink of making it to the last-four stage.

The Madurai outfit would only have itself to blame for the debacle.

Put into bat first, an opening 116-run partnership between skipper Karthik (55) and Shijith Chandran (51) saw the side from Madurai getting off to a roaring start. At a time when it looked as if it would put up a mammoth total, it suffered a middle-order collapse. From 116-0 in 12.1 overs, the Super Giant lost quick wickets to reach 163-7 in 20 overs.

After such a solid start, all the team required was some resilience, but none of the batsmen could rise to the occasion, making things tough for the already struggling side.

Taking advantage of the middle-order collapse, the Super Gillies regrouped itself to bounce back into the game. With its bowlers keeping cool in the death overs, the Chennai-based outfit clipped the wings of the high-flying Madurai batting attack.

Chasing 164, Super Gillies reached home with one over to spare.

But then, it was not as smooth as it sounds. Coming into bat, the side lost opener K. H. Gopinath for 21, putting the onus back on the middle-order. While the other opener Thalaivan Sargunam held fort, playing a knock of 41, the Super Gillies lost three quick wickets to find itself under pressure.

It was W. Antony Dhas, who played a rather gritty knock of 26 off 16, to bring the side back on track. Had the young gun not stood firm, things could have gone haywire. Luckily for Super Gillies, it didn’t.

After Dhas’ dismissal, U. Sasidev (30 off 22) and R. Sathish (11 off 13) hung in there with an unbeaten partnership of 38, to ensure the Hemang Badani-coached side had a foot in the play-offs.

If Super Gillies left the ground with smile on its face, Super Giant skipper Arun Karthik looked dejected after another crushing defeat. After a dismal season last year, the Super Giants had dropped the letter ‘s’ from its name this time around.

The team owners had claimed that they took cue from the now-defunct Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rising Pune Supergiant to change the name of the team. Pune’s meteoric rise in the IPL would have perhaps given them a ray of hope. But it's shoddy script remained unchanged in the TNPL.

After another loss — its fourth in the season and eleventh overall — Madurai Super Giant coach Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan admitted that the pressure is mounting up. "Yes, there is a lot of pressure, but as coach I have to be calm inside. I can’t lose it. That is not going to help either, so I have to be firm and see that the boys are in good shape," he said.

"We have played better this year, though many people may not agree because we haven't got the desired results. It hurts a lot. I’ve tried everything possible," he added.

The disappointment was evident on his face as he spoke, but the seasoned coach tried maintain a brave face. "I’m just hoping we can win a couple of games so that we can come back and find a better combination for the next year. We still have three games to go; I think if we can win two (games) it will show a lot of character. That’s what is required now," Vidyut said.

The coach, added that his team now has pride to play for. "It’s very difficult (to digest this loss). We were looking forward to a lot of things this game. We started off beautifully, but again... yes, we are getting better. That’s the only consolation. I guess now we just need to play for pride and win a couple of games," he said.

Brief scores:-

Madurai Super Giant 163/7 in 20 overs (Shijit Chandran 61, K. B. Arun Karthick 55; R. Sathish 2/30) lost to Chepauk Super Gillies 164/5 in 19 overs (Thalaivan Sargunam 41, Antony Dhas 26; R. Karthikeyan 2/31)