Both captains Narayan Jagadeesan and Kaushi Gandhi exude confidence ahead of title encounter
It has taken 26 days and 31 games to decide the 4th Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) finalists. On Independence Day, the best two teams –Chepauk Super Gillies and Dindigul Dragons will lock horns at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here for the title.
There’s not much to separate the two teams. Last year’s finalists Dindigul Dragons derive their strength from their two prolific openers from Coimbatore – wicketkeeper batsman Narayan Jagadeesan and left-hander C Hari Nishaanth. The DD captain in fact is not just TNPL’s top run-getter with 1352 runs under his belt but also the season’s best batsman (448 runs) as well. Nishaanth is not too far off with 318 runs and is fourth among the top-run getters this season behind Jagadeesan, Ruby Trichy Warriors’ Murali Vijay (359 runs) and Siechem Madurai Panthers’ KB Arun Karthick (356 runs).
CSG’s best suit has been their varied bowling attack. The ‘Slinger from Salem’ Ganeshan Periyasamy has led the pace attack with aplomb picking at least a wicket in all eight matches he has played to be second in the list of top wicket-takers of the season with 16 scalps.
Complimenting the 25-year-old pacer is all-rounder Senathipathy Harish Kumar, who has surprised batsmen with his bounce, picking 15 wickets. Left-arm spinner Ramadoss Alexandar, with 11 wickets, has also been a good support cast. Like DD, CSG’s opening pair of KH Gopinath (293 runs) and left-handed V Ganga Sridhar Raju (225 runs) have led their run-charge.
The grey area for both teams has been their middle-order batting, which has struggled under pressure.
CSG hold an edge over DD as they are 3-2 ahead in five previous meetings, including the five-run win in Qualifier 1 at the India Cements Limited-Sankar Nagar Ground, Tirunelveli. Besides, they possess a star all-rounder in Vijay Shankar unlike DD, who will be without their inspirational captain Ravichandran Ashwin as he had to head to the West Indies for the Test series. Fielding is another area where CSG have been brilliant.
Jagadeesan rued Ashwin’s absence as not only will they be missing a quality player but also his inputs during crucial moments of the game. DD, however, are fully equipped to deal with the situation insists the 25-year-old.
“Obviously having someone like Ashwin who has been part of the team almost till the last has been a great boost for us. At the same time when he’s not playing, it’s a big loss for us. A player of his experience and exposure always comes in handy during any situation we face. So, it’s going to be a big loss but it’s not something we’re prepared for and hopefully we can perform well without him,” he said, during the captains’ interaction with the media on Wednesday.
CSG captain Kaushik Gandhi feels the past records don’t hold much value as it is going to be fresh game on Thursday with fresh challenges. Although he admits it is good to have a familiar opponent at the other end. “Both teams have done really well to enter the finals. But it’s a fresh day tomorrow, both teams are starting from zero. Whatever past has happened but I mean it (the win in Qualifier 1) will give us confidence going in to the finals but it’s not going to play a big part in helping players. It depends on how well the team executes the plans on that particular day. The better team that executes the plan will come victorious,” he said. “To some extent it is good to have a familiar opponent, you can’t get surprised by tricky bowlers and unconventional batsmen so it makes our homework easier,” he added
Gandhi agrees the presence of Vijay Shankar gives the side an additional strength. “Definitely, it is a big boost to have him. He has played at the highest level and it does give a lot of positive energy for the team inside the dressing room. He’s a three dimensional player like everyone knows,” he said.
Although DD lost to CSG in Qualifier 1 by 5 runs, they can take a lot of confidence from the manner in which they upstaged Siechem Madurai Panthers by 45 runs in Qualifier 2. Their later order batsmen – NS Chaturved and Mohammed Mohammed — packed a punch and their bowling and fielding stood out as well.
Jagadeesan admits DD’s middle-order has not fired this season but he takes confidence from the win against SMP. “I’ve been asked the same question again and again a lot of times. But, comparing previous seasons and this year probably we didn’t get a lot of runs. Last game was something which was really required by the middle-order to come good. Basically me and Hari Nishaanth, we just had to consolidate the innings up the order and the rest of the middle order stepped up,” he said.
Final:Chepauk Super Gillies v Dindigul Dragons
Venue:MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai
When:August 15, 2019 (Thursday)
Match timings:7:15 P.M. onwards
Live on:Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 (Tamil), Vijay Super
Head to head:CSG 3, DD 2
Road to final:Chepauk Super Gillies Dindigul Dragons
Q1: Beat Dindigul Dragons by 5 runs Q2: Beat Siechem Madurai Panthers by 45 runs
Beat Tuti Patriots by 32 runs Lost to Chepauk Super Gillies by 5 runs
Lost to Siechem Madurai Panthers by 33 runs Lost to Lyca Kovai Kings by 35 runs
Beat VB Kanchi Veerans by 61 runs Beat VB Kanchi Veerans by 7 wickets
Beat Lyca Kovai Kings by 9 wickets Beat Ruby Trichy Warriors by 5 wickets
Beat iDream Karaikudi Kaalai by 54 runs Beat iDream Karaikudi Kaalai by 10 wickets
Beat Ruby Trichy Warriors by 41 runs Beat Tuti Patriots by 40 runs
Lost to Dindigul Dragons by 10 runs Beat Siechem Madurai Panthers by 30 runs
Beat Chepauk Super Gillies by 10 runs
2019 top performers: KH Gopinath 293 runs, V Ganga Sridhar Raju 225 runs; Ganeshan Periyasamy 16 wickets, Senathipathy Harish Kumar 15 wickets; Narayan Jagadeesan 448 runs, C Hari Nishaanth 318 runs; Munnusamy Silambarasan 14 wickets, Rohit Ramalingam 10 wickets (DD)
Chepauk Super Gillies:M Kaushik Gandhi (captain), KH Gopinath, V Ganga Sridhar Raju, Vijay Shankar, Uthirasamy Sasidev, Senathipathy Harish Kumar, Murugan Ashwin, Umashankar Sushil (WK), Manimaran Siddharth, Rahul Dev, Ganeshan Periyaswamy, Ramadoss Alexandar, B Rahul, MK Siva Kumar, V Arun Kumar, Sunny Kumar Singh.
Dindigul Dragons:C Hari Nishaanth, Narayan Jagadeesan (Captain & Wicketkeeper), NS Chaturved, Rajendran Vivek, Sumant Jain, Mohan Abhinav, Mohammed Mohammed, Ramalingam Rohit, Munnusamy Silambarasan, Jagannathan Kaushik, Yazh Arun Mozhi, Varun M Totadri, Adithya Arun, Trilok Nag.
Umpires: K Srinivasan, JR Madanagopal. TV umpire:R Rajesh Kannan.
Match referee:S Suresh.