Tirunelveli, July 28: Fast bowler Raghupathi Silambarasan and batsmen Baba Aparajith and Suresh Lokeshwar essayed key roles to help VB Kanchi Veerans upstage defending champions Siechem Madurai Panthers by seven wickets in the 4th Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) at the India Cements Limited- Sankar Nagar ground, Tirunelveli here on Sunday.
After SMP won the toss and decided to bat first, their batsmen found the going tough once Silambarasan came into the attack. The 26-year-old from Cuddalore broke the back of SMP innings by claiming his maiden five-wicket haul in TNPL (4-0-17-5) to restrict their rivals to 138-9 in 20 overs.
Veerans’ captain Aparajith and diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman Lokeshwar ensured Silambarasan’s efforts didn’t go to waste by putting together the highest partnership of the match. They raised 80 runs in 66 balls for the third wicket to take the game away from SMP.
Aparajith hit five fours in his 41-ball 44 while Lokeshwar strung his second fifty-plus score this season and remained unbeaten. The former Under-19 Tamil Nadu captain, who had scored 51 against Lyca Kovai Kings, struck six fours in his 42-ball 51. Senior pro of the side, Rajagopal Sathish (22 not out in 11 balls, 3 fours) provided the finishing touches as VBKV collected 19 runs from the penultimate over to seal the game. They finished on 141-3 to record their second successive victory that puts them on the second position in the eight-team standings.
The victory also put an end to the trend of teams winning after batting first here. Overall, teams batting first have logged more victories (nine) than the team batting second (three).
Silambarasan mixed the slow deliveries well to put the brakes on SMP innings. Coming into to bowl in the 13th over with the SMP score reading 83-2, he made an immediate impact by claiming their captain and top-scorer Shijit Chandran (39 off 36 balls, 6 fours).
The 33-year-old, who took the captaincy reins from KB Arun Karthick, was dropped twice when he was on 13 and 18 – both caught and bowled chances – off medium-pacer Sathish Rajagopal and left-arm spinner NS Harish. He also survived a stumping chance on 25 off Sathish when he missed a quicker delivery. Wicketkeeper Lokeshwar also missed it completely with the batsman well outside his crease.
Silambarasan finally ended Chandran’s tenure with the batsman holing out in the deep. He dented SMP’S chances further by claiming a wicket in every over before ending his spell with a double strike. It was the second five-wicket haul of the tournament following Chepauk Super Gillies’ Ramadoss Alexandar’s 5-9 at the same venue against Ruby Trichy Warriors last week.
The SMP innings was largely built on two partnerships of 40 runs each for the second and third wickets. Chandran was the central character in both, stringing alliances with opener A Sarathraj (17 off 14 balls, 1 four, 1 six) and then Kousik (22 off 23 balls, 1 four, 1 six).
Karthick’s decision to opt out of captaincy to focus on his batting did not go well in this game. He played out a maiden off left-arm pacer Rangaraj Suthesh in the first over of the match and was out in the next over, slicing fast bowler Gowtham Thamarai Kannan to short third man, for 1.
Chandran said the captaincy decision was made before the start of the tournament and it was delayed only because he was coming into the side after recovering from an injury. “The captaincy is not new to me. I’ve led the side in the first year (2016). KB (Karthick) told me even before the players draft that he’s not interested in captaincy and he wanted to focus on his batting. He wanted to see the progress in the first two games and wanted me to take over, as I had just come back from an injury,” Chandran said.
“KB is our key player and even when Rohit Damodaran led our side last year, KB performed really well, we don’t want to put pressure on him,” he added.
VB Kanchi Veerans will stay put in Tirunelveli for their next match against Tuti Patriots on Tuesday (July 30) while Siechem Madurai Panthers will travel to NPR College Ground, Natham, Dindigul to meet Ruby Trichy Warriors on Wednesday (July 31).
Brief scores: Siechem Madurai Panthers 138-9 in 20 overs(Shijith Chandran 39, Jagatheesan Kousik 22, Abhishek Tanwar 19; Rajagopal Sathish 2-22, R Silambarasan 5-17) lost to VB Kanchi Veerans 141-3 in 19 overs (Baba Aparajith 44, Suresh Lokeshwar 51not out, Rajagopal Sathish 22 not out; Jagatheesan Kousik 1-19) by seven wickets.
Toss: SMP, opt to bat
Points:Siechem Madurai Panthers 0; VB Kanchi Veerans 2
Umpires:Mohd Rafi, R Rajesh Kannan. TV umpire:M Kuppuraj.
Match referee:S Srinivason.
Sankar Cement Man of the Match:Raghupathy Silambarasan (VBKV)
Sankar Cement Maximum 6s:A Sarathraj, Jagatheesan Kousik, Kiran Akash (all SMP)
TCM-Nippon Paint Atom Best All-rounder:Jagathees
an Kousik (SMP)
SNJ VSOP Adhiradhi Four:Suresh Lokeshwar (VBKV), Shijit Chandran (SMP)
BKT Tyres Commander of the Match:Baba Aparajith (VBKV)
Sprite Juicy+ Refreshing Player:Shijit Chandran (SMP)
TVS Most Valuable Player of the Match:Suresh Lokeshwar (VBKV)
Sharon Ply Strong Performer of the Match:Akash Sumra (SMP)
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