Chennai, August 8: Lyca Kovai Kings bowlers held their nerve in a tense finish to upstage Nellai Royal Kings and qualify for the Shriram Capital Tamil Nadu Premier League Playoffs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday.
After their captain Musa Shahrukh Khan had held center-stage with the bat and helped them raise a total of 169, their bowlers were tested to the limit by the Nellai batsmen. However, the seasoned Abhishek Tanwar stepped up with a stingy over to nail Nellai, who fell short by seven runs. They ended up on 162-8 in 20 overs.
Nellai wicketkeeper-batsman Baba Indrajith (49 not out off 35 balls, 2 fours, 3 sixes) fought a valiant battle for Nellai but it was not enough.
Kovai Kings ended their league engagement on a high to finish with 7 points from 7 matches, the same as Nellai but nosed ahead on account of a better run rate. While Kovai had an NRR of -0.088, Nellai ended up with -0.485, which pushed them down to the fifth spot.
Shahrukh was over the moon after the win. “It feels good, the way we qualified after a not very consistent tournament, the way we came back was good,” he said.
At one stage, Nellai appeared to be heading for a thrilling win when Jitendra Kumar (20 off 9 balls, 3 fours) creamed 17 runs off pacer R Divakar’s over. It left them with a target of 29 off 18 balls. But Tanwar conceded just five in the 18th and Divakar recovered to give away six in the 19th, leaving a stiff 18 to get in the final over with Indrajith at the crease. But Tanwar bowled four balls without conceding a run to seal the contest, although Indrajith hit a six and a four off the final two balls, it was too little, too late.
Openers Baba Aparajith (28 off 21 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) and Laxmesha Surya Prakash (36 off 33 balls, 1 four, 1 six) began the chase in right earnest with a 37-run alliance but pacer V Yudheeswaran broke through the Nellai ranks to claim three wickets.
Spinners S Ajith Ram (1-34) and U Mukilesh (2-6) too chipped in with wickets at crucial times to keep the rivals in check.
Earlier, it was a battle between captains Shahrukh Khan and Aparajith with the former having a bigger say in the proceedings. Kovai Kings batsmen stepped up to the crease with intent after Shahrukh had won the toss and decided to bat first. Opener V Ganga Sridhar Raju (30 off 19 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) and J Suresh Kumar (36 off 35 balls, 3 fours) raising 41 runs off 30 balls, but that was when Aparajith turned the tide for the side with a brilliant spell of off-spin bowling. The 27-year-old Nellai captain claimed three
left-handers, Raju, Bhardwaj Sai Sudharsan (0), and debutant MA Atheeq Ur Rahman (3) to finish with a superb analysis of 4-0-13-3.
At 76-4 in 12 overs, Kovai was in a spot of bother but Shahrukh powered their fightback with a crackling 64 not out in 29 balls, which included five fours and five sixes. In eight overs, Kovai added 93 runs to finish on a high.
Atheeq was the 25th player to make his debut in the tournament this season and it proved to be a good outing for the 24-year-old all-rounder.
Brief scores: Lyca Kovai Kings 169-6 in 20 overs (Shahrukh Khan 64*, Suresh Kumar 36, Ganga Sridhar Raju 30; B Aparajith 3-13, Sanjay Yadav 1-26, NS Harish 1-42) beat Nellai Royal Kings 162-8 in 20 overs (B Indrajith 49*, Surya Prakash 36, B Aparajith 28; V Yudheeswaran 3-33, U Mukilesh 2-6, Ajith Ram 1-34) by 7 runs.
Toss: Lyca Kovai Kings, chose to field.
Debutants: Atheeq Ur Rahman MA (LKK)
Points: Lyca Kovai Kings – 2, Nellai Royal Kings – 0
Umpires: G R Sadashiv Iyer, G S Anantharamkrishnan
Third umpire: M G Saidharshan Kumar
Match Referee: Jayaraman Gokulakrishnan
Koo App Most Number of 6s: Shahrukh Khan (LKK)
Shriram Most Number of 4s: Shahrukh Khan (LKK)
Dream 11 Game Changer of the Match: U Mukilesh (LKK)
Upstox Most Valuable Player of the Match: Baba Aparajith (NRK)
BKT Tires– Commander of the Match: Ganga Sridhar Raju (LKK)
Shriram Capital Player of the Match: Shahrukh Khan (LKK)
Qualifier-1 at 7:30 pm.
Live on: Star Sports Tamil, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2HD, Disney+ Hotstar from 7:30 pm.
POINTS TABLE (after 27th Match):
|Standing||Team Name||Matches Played||Wins||Loss||N/R||Points||Net Run Rate|