Washington's all round show ensures tight win for Tuti Patriots

Washington Sundar scored an attacking half-century and claimed three wickets as Albert Tuti Patriots defeated Dindigul Dragons by seven runs.

Washington Sundar en route his 48-ball 69 on Saturday.   -  V. Ganesan

Aushik Srinivas ran with his back to the ball and then dived to pluck the ball out of thin air at backward point. And then he scored a direct hit with only one stump to aim at. Fielding makes a massive difference in Twenty20 cricket and Aushik was on the ball when it mattered, nailing those fleeting opportunities; he seized the moment.

On the first occasion, Aushik brilliantly held Ashwin Venkataraman off paceman Athisiyaraj Davidson to end a dangerous 60-run partnership in 42 balls for the fourth wicket with impressive opener Ganga Sridhar Raju. Then, he ran out the unsung R. Vivek, a second division cricketer with MRC ‘A’, who blitzed a nerveless and power-laden 36 off 13 deliveries (2x4, 3x6), to take Dindigul Dragons to the doorstep of victory.

In the end, Albert Tuti Patriots, defending 184 on a good surface, squeezed out a seven-run win over Dindigul Dragons in this season’s inaugural TNPL clash at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

Though Aushik’s heroics swung a tight game in the end, Tuti Patriots owe much to the promising Washington Sundar for his all-round display - an innings of 69 (48b, 8x4, 2x6) and three for 34 with his off-spin. The ease and the flow in Washington Sundar’s batsmanship is hard to ignore. Tall and languid, he has the natural grace of a southpaw.

This was a night at Chepauk when Washington employed his feet, got into good positions, whether thumping the pacemen over their head or creaming them through covers. And then with his height and high-arm action, Washington sent down his off-spinners with control – he does extract extra bounce.

Raju lays base

As the night wore on, Dragons stumbled on the chase undone by some accurate bowling at the start. The aggressive N. Jagadeesan promised much before being picked up in the deep off Washington. Even as wickets fell at the other end, left-handed opener Ganga Sridhar Raju (66, 55b, 7x4, 1x6) kept Dragons in the game, batting with both solidity and enterprise.

He often shifted deep into the crease to shorten the length and did essay the pull shot capably. He was reprieved by Anand Subramanium (on 29) at covers of paceman Akash Sumra and almost made the Patriots pay for it. Indeed, the openers pulled their weight in this game. After Tuti Patriots won the toss, the left-right opening combination of Washington and Kaushik Gandhi (46, 33b, 7x4) forced the Dragons’ bowlers to constantly shift their line.

Kaushik is a compact, efficient run-maker who can, both, work the ball into the gaps or drill the sphere through them. And he is a lovely player through the off-side. The 107-run partnership for the first wicket – the opening six Power Play overs fetched the Patriots a whopping 67 runs – unsettled the bowlers, forcing them to change plans.

In the end, Patriots was home – by a narrow margin.

Brief scores: Albert Tuti Patriots 184 for four in 20 overs (Washington Sundar 69, Kaushik Gandhi 46) beat Dindigul Dragons 177 for seven in 20 overs (Ganga Sridhar Raju 66, R. Vivek 36, Washington Sundar three for 34).

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