Dindigul, August 14: Dindigul Dragons turned in a brilliant batting and bowling display to beat Madurai Panthers in the Qualifier 2 of the Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) at the NPR College Ground. They entered the final and will face Chepauk Super Gillies on Thursday (August 15) for title.
After posting a hefty 175-6 in 20 overs, Dragons bowled out the defending champions Panthers for 130 in 19.5 overs for an emphatic 45-run victory.
Dragons, who had lost to Super Gillies in Qualifier 1 by five runs at the India Cements Limited-Sankar Nagar Ground, Tirunelveli, will meet the same opponents again in the final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.
Panthers' innings began to unravel once their best batsman KB Arun Karthick (11 off 8 balls, 2 fours) was dismissed in the third over, pulling pacer Rohit Ramalingam straight to deep midwicket where Mohan Abhinav juggled it before catching it on the second attempt. The way DD players celebrated and rushed to Mohan indicated how prized Karthick's wicket was.
Spinners Mohan Abhinav (2-18) and Munnusamy Silambarasan (3-18) then took over and did most of the damage to SMP. It was a perfect outing for DD, who were without their inspirational captain Ravichandran Ashwin as he had to depart for national duty for the Test series in West Indies.
The other opener A Sarath Raj (32 off 23 balls, 1 four, 3 sixes) took the fight into the rival camp by hitting a four and two sixes in succession off medium-pacer Adithya Arun in the 5th over. But in the next over, SMP were dealt another body blow when their captain and second-best batsman, Shijit Chandran (3), was out miscuing left-arm spinner Silambarasan to mid-on.
Leg-spinner Abhinav twisted the knife further with a double-wicket maiden by first dismissing SMP wicketkeeper Nilesh Subramanian (12), who lifted the bowler straight into long off fielder Rajendran Vivek. He then flummoxed Sarath with a googly and bowled him.
Thereafter Jagateesan Kousik (40 off 32 balls, 2 fours, 3 sixes) waged a lone battle and was the highest scorer for the team. The 24-year-old from Coimbatore was dismissed in the 17 over when his slog off Silambarasan failed to go the distance and was safely pouched by Vivek at long on.
Silambarasan claimed his third wicket off the next ball when Ramachandran Mithun tried to loft the bowler over extra-cover but ended up holing out to mid-off.
Pacer Rohit Ramalingam (3-20) cleaned up the tail by picking two wickets in his last over to the delight of the Dindigul Dragons' supporters, who had turned up in large numbers to cheer for their favourite team.
Earlier, a late charge by N Sarangarajan Chaturved (35 off 13 balls, 1 four, 4 sixes) and Mohammed Mohammed (32 off 9 balls, 2 fours, 3 sixes) powered DD to a strong total, who decided to bat first after winning the toss. The last year's finalists smashed 73 runs in the last five overs with both batsmen together raining seven sixes and three fours.
Chaturved and Mohammed's late assault provided a grand finish to the innings after openers Narayan Jagadeesan (50 off 48 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) and C Hari Nishaanth (51 off 46 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) had patiently raised 101 runs in 14.4 overs for the first wicket.
It was the fourth fifty each for the Coimbatore lads and third century partnership for the most prolific opening pair of the season. They took their time to get going, Nishaanth breaking free in the fourth over with two boundaries off pacer Kiran Akash. Jagadeesan, who led the side in Ashwin's absence, followed suit in the next over, with back to back fours off left-arm spinner N Selva Kumaran.
Thereafter boundaries were far and few in between until the 12th over when Nishaanth clouted a straight six and a four over mid-off, off medium-pacer Lokesh Raj. Once left-arm spinner Rahil Shah came in for his second spell (2-0-9-1), just 15 runs came off three overs and he also claimed Jagadeesan.
The wicketkeeper batsman had survived two close calls earlier. The first reprieve came in the eighth over, when a swipe off off-spinner Ramachandran Mithun was misjudged by Abhishek Tanwar at deep midwicket and it spilled over the fence for a six.
Jagadeesan then was on 23 and the team score 40-0. The second chance was relatively easy as A Sarath Raj let a dolly slip between his hands after Jagadeesan's attempt to tonk Shah took a leading edge and ballooned upto point. The DD captain was on 45 and their score 87-0.
Jagadeesan's wicket was followed by the dismissal of Rajendran Vivek (1) and it brought Chaturved to the crease. The 29-year-old did not waste any time, wading into the SMP attack by clouting two successive off the second and third ball he faced from Kiran Akash. While Nishaanth had gone quiet at the other end, Chaturved continued with his big hitting collecting a straight four off Selva Kumaran in the next over.
Nishaanth was trapped lbw in the 18thover but it spelt more trouble for SMP as Mohammed walked in with the same intent as Chaturved. He too began his innings in spectacular fashion hoicking two back to back sixes off Tanwar.
Chaturved took charge in the next over smashing two sixes off Lokesh Raj before holing out to Kousik at long-on. Mohammed was not finished yet as he hit two fours and a six off Kiran Akash as 18 runs came off the final over.
Kiran Akash claimed two wickets to top the wicket-takers list of the season with 17 scalps but he was also the most expensive bowler of the match conceding 44 runs in his four overs.