Natham, Dindigul, August 5: Dindigul Dragons sealed the top spot in the 4th Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) with another emphatic victory at the NPR College Ground, here on Monday.
DD upstaged VB Kanchi Veerans by seven wickets for their sixth consecutive victory, giving them an unassailable lead in the standings. They have 12 points and the closest contenders for the top slot – Chepauk Super Gillies and Siechem Madurai Panthers – have eight points from six matches. Even if both teams win their last league matches, they would only end up with 10 points each.
DD's sixth win meant they topped the league standings for the second year in succession. In 2018, they totalled 10 points from seven matches with five wins and two defeats.
For VBKV, their third defeat in six matches ensures they remain on the fourth spot with six points and the playoff spot well within reach.
After restricting VBKV for 133, DD too struggled to overhaul the target but opener C Hari Nishaanth broke the shackles with an unbeaten 61 off 44 balls (5 fours, 3 sixes) to see the side through.
The DD chase began on a sedate note with Rangaraj Suthesh keeping both openers, Nishaanth and Narayan Jagadeesan (21 off 30 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) quiet. The left-arm pacer bowled 18 dots in a fiery wicketless spell of four overs (0-19).
The prolific Jagadeesan took eight balls to get off the mark and did it by lofting left-arm spinner NS Harish for a big six over long on. Just when the most successful opening pair of the season was settling in, smart glovework by Suresh Lokeshwar ended Jagadeesan’s scrappy innings.
Trying to sweep Harish, Jagadeesan failed to connect and with his foot just a shade outside the crease, Lokeshwar whipped off the bails in a flash.
Thereafter runs were hard to come by as DD huffed and puffed to reach 71-2 in the 14th over.
No.3 Sumant Jain (8 of 9 balls) and captain Ravichandran Ashwin (8 off 17 balls) struggled to get going but Nishaanth broke free in the 15th over, smashing medium-pacer Ramesh Divakar for 19 runs, carting two sixes and a four despite losing his captain in the same over. Big hitter Rajendran Vivek, who came in at No.5, hastened the victory by clobbering 26 runs off 10 balls.
DD hit 63 runs in their last 4.1 overs with Nishaanth scoring 32. VBKV pacer Gowtham Thamarai Kannan, who came in to bowl in the 17th over, was at the receiving end of the DD onslaught, going for 22 runs in the only over he bowled in the match. Nishaanth hit a four while Vivek struck a four and huge six over deep mid-wicket off the pacer, who is VBKV’s leading wicket-taker with eight scalps from five matches.
Nishaanth and Vivek were also involved in the most rollicking alliance of the innings raising 50 runs off 21 balls.
It was a productive day for Nishaanth, who had earlier picked two wickets for 17 runs with three overs of off-spin bowling.
Earlier, VB Kanchi Veerans’ openers K Vishal Vaidhya (51 of 41 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) and Srinivasan Arun (12 off 16 balls) justified captain Baba Aparajith’s decision to bat first with a 52-run stand in 39 balls. Soon the innings went into a tailspin as they lost four wickets for six runs within a space of 18 balls. From 52-0 in the seventh over, they slumped to 58-4 in the 10th.
Dindigul Dragons’ captain Ashwin, who used six different bowlers—three spinners bowling first three -- in the Powerplay, got his first success when leg-spinner Abhinav Mohan (3-24) bowled Arun with a googly. The 24-year-old Coimbatore slow bowler got his second scalp off his next ball when Aparajith slashed at a wide delivery and edged it to wicketkeeper Jagadeesan for a golden duck.
Left-hander Sanjay Yadav (2), coming in at No.4, went for a big hoick against part-time off-spinner Nishaanth and holed out to M Mohammed at long-on. VBKV’s misery continued in the next over when Francis Rokins (2) dashed for a non-existent run and was run out by the agile M Silambarasan.
Vaidhya and veteran Rajagopal Sathish (10 off 10 balls) added 27 runs off 18 balls for a mini-revival but it did not last long. Three wickets fell for the addition of 14 runs and VBKV were staring at a low score of 99-7 after 16 overs.
Sathish, who had earlier hit Silambarasan for two consecutive fours, was out to the same bowler in his next over, failing to keep a sweep shot down and was caught smartly by Jagannathan Kaushik at short-fine leg. In the next over, Vaidhya, who had held one end intact with a good mix of caution and aggression, hauled Abhinav straight to deep mid-wicket for the leggie’s third scalp.
It was then left to wicketkeeper Suresh Lokeshwar, batting low at No.7, to ensure a fighting total for VBKV with an unbeaten 26 off 20 balls that included two sixes.
Both teams travel to India Cements Ltd-Sankar Nagar Ground, Tirunelveli for their last league matches. Dindigul Dragons taken on Lyca Kovai Kings on Wednesday (August 7) while VB Kanchi Veerans meet the winless Ruby Trichy Warriors in the last league match of the season on Friday (August 9).
Brief scores: VB Kanchi Veerans 133-8 in 20 overs (Vishal Vaidhya 51, Suresh Lokeshwar 26; Mohan Abhinav 3-24, C Hari Nishaanth 2-17) beat Dindigul Dragons 134-3 in 20 overs(C Hari Nishaanth 61 not out, Narayan Jagadeesan 21, Rajendran Vivek 26 not out; NS Harish 1-22, Ramesh Divakar 2-34) by 15 runs.
Toss: VBKV, elected to bat
Points:VB Kanchi Veerans 0; Dindigul Dragons 2
Umpires:K Srinivasan, K Srinath. TV umpire:N Janani.
Match referee:B Kalyanasundaram.
Sankar Cement Man of the Match:C Hari Nishaanth (DD)
Sankar Cement Maximum 6s: Vishal Vaidhya (VBKV),C Hari Nishaanth (DD)
TCM-Nippon Paint Atom Best All-rounder:C Hari Nishaanth (DD)
SNJ VSOP Adhiradhi Four:C Hari Nishaanth (DD)
BKT Tyres Commander of the Match: Rajendran Vivek (DD)
Sprite Juicy+ Refreshing Player:Mohan Abhinav (DD)
TVS Most Valuable Player of the Match:Vishal Vaidhya (VBKV)
Sharon Ply Strong Performer of the Match:M Mohammed (DD)
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