Tirunelveli, August 9: VB Kanchi Veerans’ captain Baba Aparajith and opener Suresh Lokeshwar batted with purpose to overcome a tricky target and Ruby Trichy Warriors to book their Playoff spot for the first time in the Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League at the India Cements-Sankar Nagar Ground here on Friday.
After restricting RTW to 121-7 in 20 overs, VBKV attained the target in 19.1 overs, scoring 122-3, for a seven-wicket win. It was their fourth win in seven matches and they finished the league phase with eight points. Lyca Kovai Kings (0.255) also finished with the same number of points but VBKV (0.552) earned the fourth Playoff spot because of their higher net run rate.
VBKV will face the third-placed Siechem Madurai Panthers in the Eliminator here on Sunday evening.
It was heartbreak for LKK, as they failed to make the Playoffs cut for the first time in four seasons.
Chasing 122 for win, VBKV diminutive opener Suresh Lokeshwar (40 runs, 42 balls, 3 fours) and captain Baba Aparajith (50 not out, 39 balls, 1 four, 4 sixes) batted patiently to keep their rivals at bay. The duo raised 46 runs in 53 balls for the third wicket before Lokeshwar was run out, trying to sneak a run off a misfield but an alert Sai Kishore broke down the stumps at the non-striker’s catching the VBKV wicketkeeper short of his crease.
Aparajith brought out the big shots as well carting four sixes, one each off-spinners Kannan Vignesh, Sai Kishore and two off medium-pacer P Saravana Kumar. The 25-year-old hastened the proceedings in the 19th over by hitting two sixes and a four off Saravan Kumar, fetching 18 runs for VBKV.
Aparajith was also involved in an unbeaten 40-run alliance off 28 balls with all-rounder R Sanjay Yadav (10 not out, 12 balls). Yadav sealed the win with a single off R Sathyanarayan.
Earlier, electing to bat after winning the toss, RTW struggled to put up a decent total on board in the absence of their talismanic opener Murali Vijay. Opener Karunakaran Mukunth (32 off 36 balls, 3 fours) and left-handed Adithya Ganesh (43 off 40 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) were the only batsmen who came good. Their partnership of 47 runs off 48 balls for the third wicket was the only highlight of the innings as VBKV bowlers turned in a disciplined display.
Both teams made three changes each to their teams that played their last league games. VBKV got in top order batsman P Sugendhiran, left-arm spinner K Aushik Srinivas and fast bowler Raghupathi Silambarasan in place of Srinivasan Arun, S Ramesh Divakar and Gowtham Thamarai Kannan. For RTW, opener Neyan Shyam Kangeyan, middle-order batsman Maaruthi Raghav and left-arm spinner Kannan Vignesh replaced Murali Vijay, Aditya Barooah and Laxminarayanan Vignesh respectively.
Brief scores:Ruby Trichy Warriors 121-7 in 20 overs (Karunakaran Mukunth 32, Adithya Ganesh 43; R Suthesh 1-22, R Aushik Srinivas 1-12, Baba Aparajith 1-22) lost to VB Kanchi Veerans 122-3 in 19.1 overs (Suresh Lokeshwar 40, Baba Aparajith 50 not out; Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore 1-12) VBKV won by 7 wickets.
Toss:RTW, elected to bat
Points:Ruby Trichy Warriors 2; VB Kanchi Veerans 8
Debut:P Sugendhiran (VBKV)
Umpires:MG Saidarshan Kumar, R Rajesh Kannan; TV umpire:JR Madanagopal.
Match referee:B Kalyanasundaram.
Sankar Cement Man of the Match:Baba Aparajith (VBKV)
Sankar Cement Maximum 6s: Baba Aparajith (VBKV)
TCM-Nippon Paint Atom Best All-rounder:Baba Aparajith (VBKV)
SNJ VSOP Adhiradhi Four:Suresh Lokeshwar (VBKV), Karunkaran Mukunth, Adithya Ganesh (RTW)
BKT Tyres Commander of the Match: Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore (RTW)
Sprite Juicy+ Refreshing Player:Adithya Ganesh (RTW)
TVS Most Valuable Player of the Match:Suresh Lokeshwar (VBKV)
Sharon Ply Strong Performer of the Match:NS Harish (VBKV)
August 11 (Sunday)at ICL-Sankar Nagar Ground, Tirunelveli
Qualifier 1:Dindigul Dragons v Chepauk Super Gillies, 3:15 pm (A)
Eliminator:Siechem Madurai Panthers v VB Kanchi Veerans, 7:15 pm (B)
August 13 (Tuesday)at NPR College ground, Natham, Dindigul
Qualifier 2:Loser of A v Winner of B, 7:15
August 15 (Thursday)at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Final:Winner of A v Winner of Qualifier 2, 7:15 p.m.