Natham, Dindigul, August 12: Dindigul Dragons has a mountain to climb when they face Siechem Madurai Panthers in Qualifier 2 of the 4th Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) at the NPR College Ground here on Tuesday.
Everything was going well for the last year’s finalists and they were expected to storm into the final without much ado but two back to back defeats, beginning with the last league match against Lyca Kovai Kings and then to Chepauk Super Gillies in Qualifier 1 has suddenly exposed their fault lines.
The batting appears vulnerable and the bowling doesn’t seem to lack the bite it did during the league phase. An untested middle-order has not been able to shore up the side once the prolific opening pair of Narayan Jagadeesan and C Hari Nishaanth is dismissed. A worrying factor would be that against CSG, the openers did provide a good start raising 64 runs in 8.5 overs but the rest of the batting line-up couldn’t score the remaining 106 runs needed for victory.
The bowling has also not exactly stepped up. Against CSG it was the part-time off-spinner Hari Nishaanth (2-16), who was their best bowler. Captain Ravichandran Ashwin, who sat out against LKK, conceded 33 runs off his four overs, picking one wicket.
Nishaanth, however, believes the side will come back strongly here. “Our middle order is slightly down but they’re improving and hitting the nets daily. So, we’re hoping they’d chip in the next game. We’ll definitely bounce back,” he said.
Ashwin too sounded optimistic about the road ahead after the CSG game. “We need to play with a lot of freedom in the next game and hopefully, we should qualify for the final,” he said.
DD still has a few factors to draw confidence from. The venue here has been a happy hunting ground where they have not lost a game this season as both their defeats were in Tirunelveli. There is always good crowd support for the side here and most importantly they hold a 5-1 record over SMP in six meetings so far. It includes the 30-run victory over the defending champions last month.
However, SMP is no longer the side that was restricted to 152-9 in 20 overs in reply to DD’s 182-6 in 20 overs. They have turned around their campaign in spectacular fashion with five back to back victories, including the five-wicket win against VB Kanchi Veerans off the last ball in the Eliminator.
Their bowlers spearheaded by pacer Kiran Akash (15 wickets) have been their best suit but a few batting worries remain. Apart from the seasoned KB Arun Karthick and captain Shijit Chandran, the rest have not been able to create the same impact.
All-rounder Abhishek Tanwar feels it is not a worry as long as they keep winning. “We’re losing wickets at crucial junctures but again if we’re winning nothing like it,” he said, adding, “we have to keep things simple and just execute our plans.”
The winner of Qualifier 2 will meet Chepauk Super Gillies in the final at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai on Thursday (August 15).
Qualifier 2: Dindigul Dragons v Siechem Madurai Panthers
Venue: NPR College ground, Natham, Dindigul
When: August 13, 2019 (Tuesday)
Match timings: 7:15 P.M onwards
Live on: Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 (Tamil), Vijay Super
Head to head: DD 5, SMP 1
2019 record: Dindigul Dragons WWWWWWLL; Siechem Madurai Panthers WLLWWWWW
2019 top performers: Narayan Jagadeesan 398 runs, Munnusamy Silambarasan 11 wickets (DD); KB Arun Karthick 345 runs, Kiran Akash 15 wickets
Dindigul Dragons:C Hari Nishaanth, Narayan Jagadeesan (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin (captain), NS Chaturved, Rajendran Vivek, Sumant Jain, Mohan Abhinav, M Mohammed, Ramalingam Rohit, Munnusamy Silambarasan, Jagannathan Kaushik, Yazh Arun Mozhi, Varun M Totadri, Adithya Arun, Trilok Nag.
Siechem Madurai Panthers:Arun Karthick KB, A Sarath Raj, Nilesh Subramanian (WK), P Shijit Chandran (captain), Jagatheesan Kousik, Akash Sumra, Abhishek Tanwar, N Selvakumaran, Ramachandran Mithun, L Kiran Akash, Lokesh Raj, Rahil S Shah, Sabin Somatha Karnavar, MS Promoth, R Karthikeyan, Adithya Giridhar.
Umpires: K Srinivasan, GR Sadashiv Iyer TV umpire: K Srinath
Match referee: S SharathPublished 13 Aug 2019, 08:00 IST