Tirunelveli, July 28: Chepauk Super Gillies turned in another clinical performance to record their third successive victory in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), defeating Kovai Kings by nine wickets at the India Cements Limited - Sankar Nagar ground,
Medium-pacer S Harish Kumar (4-13) and leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin (2-11) stifled the Kovai Kings, restricting them to 115-9 in 20 overs. Opener KH Gopinath then made short work of the target smashing 82 runs in 41 balls (10 fours, 4 sixes) during a rollicking first wicket stand of 106 runs in 72 balls with left-handed Ganga Sridhar Raju (31 not out off 35 balls, 3 fours).
While Raju played the sheet anchor role to perfection, Gopinath waded into the rival attack with lusty hits. He was very severe on Antony Dhas picking 24 runs off 11 balls that he faced from the medium-pacer carting two sixes and two fours.
It was the second century partnership by the Chennai pair of Raju and Gopinath following their 108-run alliance against iDream Karaikudi Kaalai, two days ago. Gopinath, who notched his second fifty-plus score, now leads the run-getters tally of the season with 178 runs. He is ahead of Dindigul Dragons' Narayan Jagadeesan (157) by 21 runs.
The Gillies, easily the best fielding unit of the season, completely dominated the game to rise to the top of the eight-team standings. They top the league with six points from four games.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Lyca Kovai Kings started off well scoring 43 runs without losing a wicket in the first seven overs but once Harish Kumar came on to bowl, the Kovai innings began to wobble. The 29-year-old Chennai bowler claimed his first wicket when opener Shahrukh Khan (22 off 23 balls, 2 fours) miscued a full-length delivery high for CSG captain Kaushik Gandhi to pouch.
In the next over, Harish dented LKK further with a double strike. The Kings' No 3 Malolan Rangarajan (2) mistimed a pull off a short ball that ballooned into deep midwicket fielder Ramadoss Alexandar's hands. He then came up with a superb catch off his own bowling to send back Kings' captain Abhinav Mukund (22 off 29 balls, 3 fours) after the batsman had chipped a full length ball back to the bowler.
With the Gillies on the ascendancy, it was left to Anirudh Sita Ram (15 off 18 balls) and wicketkeeper Pradosh Ranjan Paul (17 off 11 balls, 2 sixes) to rebuild the innings. They did well to add 35 runs in 24 balls before another excellence in the field by CSG ended that alliance.
Paul tried to test G Periyasamy's throw after scooping off-spinner B Arun to the fast bowler fielding at fine leg. He rifled an accurate throw to wicketkeeper A Arif, who whipped off the bails with Paul inches short of the crease.
Thereafter it was a steady procession of batsmen to the pavilion as CSG tightened the screws further. Murugan Ashwin, who had been having an ordinary tournament so far, stepped up by claiming two wickets in his final over, that was also a maiden.
He first trapped dangerman Antony Dhas (4 off 10 balls) and off the next ball, Arif did a smart job of stumping Suresh Babu. Ashwin, who bowled his first maiden in TNPL, returned his best figures of the season 4-1-11-2.
Periyasamy also chipped in two wickets as LKK lost six wickets for 13 runs between the 14th and the 18th overs. Their record of never being bowled out in the league was now in danger as they were reeling at 98-8 after 18 overs. But Akkil Srinaath (18 off 15 balls, 1 four, 1 six) ensured the record remained intact and saw the innings off in the company of tailender Natarajan (2).
Brief scores: Kovai Kings: 115-9 in 20 overs (Shahrukh Khan 22, Abhinav Mukund 22; G Periyasamy 2-23, Murugan Ashwin 2-11, S Harish Kumar 4-13) lost to Chepauk Super Gillies: 116-1 in 13.3 overs(Ganga Sridhar Raju 31 not out, KH Gopinath 82; Antony Dhas 1-29) by 9 wickets