Tirunelveli, August 10: VB Kanchi Veerans has an upper hand going into the Eliminator of the 4th Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) against defending champions Siechem Madurai Panthers at the India Cements Ltd- Sankar Nagar Ground on Sunday night.
They defeated SMP by seven wickets last month, giving them a 3-1 advantage in four meetings. VBKV captain Baba Aparajith, however, felt the past outcomes don’t mean much because they start anew on match day. “We can take confidence from the win over SMP but it’s a fresh game and we need to start doing those things again and again. That is more important than the previous results. That’ll definitely give us some confidence but I wouldn’t say that is an advantage. Tomorrow is a fresh game, a different day, different atmosphere,” he said on Saturday.
Aparajith also gains confidence from his team’s victory in their last league match against Ruby Trichy Warriors, where they came through with flying colours in a tight contest. Aparajith, himself did well scoring an unbeaten 50 off 39 balls. “Last game we really played well and want to continue that momentum. I’ve been batting well and I felt good about myself in the last game and going in to knockouts I feel that was necessary,” he said.
VBKV qualified for the Playoffs for the first time in four years and Aparajith feels the job is only half done. “We feel happy as of now because it has been four years so it feels very happy but we’re not satisfied, we have to do very well and tomorrow presents another opportunity for us. We’ll look to come hard and play our best cricket,” he said.
The 25-year-old is not perturbed by the fact that batting has become a challenge here as the last few matches have been low scoring affairs. “In general the nature of wicket here is slightly slower than Dindigul so we need to act accordingly. Looking at the pattern here, if a batsman takes time and settles in then he can put some pressure on the bowlers,” he said.
VBKV’s strengths according to the captain has been that some player or the other has put his hand up to bail them out of difficult situations during the seasons. A flexible batting line-up has been another plus, he indicated.
“We have been playing as a unita unit. Every match we can see someone performing well so it is not like just one player performing. That is the strength for us. We’re flexible with our batting order, “ he said.
Coach D Gokulakrishnan believes veteran all-rounder Rajagopal Sathish has been a guiding force with his vast experience and performance (161 runs, 7 wickets). “R Sathish coming in and addressing some few bowling areas has helped us going forward. The kind of energy and kind of format that he is in will always add a lot of value at any point of time to any side,” he said.
Siechem Madurai Panthers captain Shijit Chandran admits there is not much to choose between his team and VBKV and believes the team that executes their plans well will emerge triumphant.
“I feel VBKV are playing good cricket. Even looking at the match we lost against them, we could see they planned it well. They had a plan for every batsman and executed that well. I think we and VBKV are almost similar and we have a similar formula as well. The team that plays better and executes the plan well will win on that day.” he said.
Experienced hands KB Arun Karthick and Rahil Shah have essayed key roles on and off the field, Chandran said. Karthick, a prolific run-getter in the league with 1146 runs, has been their top scorer of the season (281 runs) and also been a big influence on the batting group. The 33-year-old Shah has been a source of guidance to the bowling group, claiming 10 wickets this season at a miserly economy rate of 5.
“Karthik is very successful in TNPL. He has played in IPL and very experienced and his experience is very important for us. In the bowling department, Rahil Shah is helping spinners and Abhishek Tanwar in fast bowling. So, the players are helping each other out and that is also one reason for us staying united. Everything is within the team and that is also helping us,” said Chandran, who has himself chipped in with 126 runs from six matches.
Eliminator:Siechem Madurai Panthers v VB Kanchi Veerans
Venue:India Cements Limited- Sankar Nagar ground, Tirunelveli
When:August 11, 2019 (Sunday)
Match timings:7:15 P.M. onwards
Live on:Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 (Tamil), Vijay Super
Umpires: K Srinivasan, R Rajesh Kannan. TV umpire:M Kuppuraj
Match referee: S Suresh
Siechem Madurai Panthers
One of the most experienced batsman in KB Arun Karthick; bowling coming good with every passing match.
Over-dependence on Karthick; brittle middle-order batting a concern.
Defend the crown and become the first team to win it back to back.
Pressure of being defending champions. One bad display and they will be out of the tournament.
Spin bowling. Led by the experienced and miserly Rahil Shah, the SMP spinners can clamp the brakes on scoring rates and induce batsmen into making mistakes.
VB Kanchi Veerans
Key batsmen in good nick having at least one big performance against their name; all weather batsman and captain Baba Aparajith; strong all-rounders in Sanjay Yadav and Rajagopal Sathish.
Bowling pack lacks stability. Highest wicket-taker Thamarai Kannan unsure of place; spin bowling not a strong suit
Surprise the big guns and go all the way to lift their maiden title.
No fixed batting order means batsmen have to be on their toes every time they go out to bat.
Rajagopal Sathish. There’s nothing that this veteran has not done to prop up VBKV. A dangerous bat in the slog overs; effective bowler and a good fielder.
H2H: SMP 1-3 VBKV
SCM: Arun Karthick KB, A Sarath Raj A, Nilesh Subramanian (WK), P Shijit Chandran (captain), Jagatheesan Kousik, Akash Sumra, Abhishek Tanwar, Ramachandran Mithun, L Kiran Akash, Lokesh Raj, Rahil S Shah, Sabin Somatha Karnavar, MS Promoth, R Karthikeyan, Adithya Giridhar, Tushar Raheja, N Selvakumaran
VBKV: S Lokeshwar (WK), K Vishal Vaidhya, Baba Aparajith (captain), U Mukilesh, Srinivasan Arun, Aushik Srinivas R, P Francis Rokins, Gowtham Thamarai Kannan, Raghupathi Silambarasan, R Sanjay Yadav, Rajagopal Satish, NS Harish, Rangaraj Suthesh, RS Mokit Hariharan, P Sugendhiran, K Deeban Lingesh, S Siddharth, Ramesh Divakar.