Lyca Kovai Kings keeps Playoffs hopes alive with 15-run win over iDream Karaikudi Kaalai

Chennai, August 04:Lyca Kovai Kings continued to remain in the hunt for a spot in the 4th Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) Playoffs by notching their third victory, upstaging iDream Karaikudi Kaalai by 15 runs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk here on Sunday.

LKK now have six points from six matches, the same as VB Kanchi Veerans, who have two more matches to play. It was the fifth straight defeat for iDream Karaikudi Kaalai, who have got just two points from six matches and in effect out of contention of a Playoff place.

LKK, the only team to have qualified for the Playoffs in the past three seasons, struggled to reach 154-7 in 20 overs after a solid start and then withstood a late charge by M Shahjahan (41 off 23 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) to restrict iDKK for 139-7 in 20 overs.

iDKK failed to get going once they lost their top scoring batsman Aniruda Srikkanth (24 off 17b, 2 fours, 1 six) in the eighth over. Left-arm spinner Ajith Ram (1-17) claimed the prized scalp with an arm ball that the batsman failed to judge and was bowled.

Off-spinner Malolan Rangarajan (2-10) then struck a double blow in his first over to dismiss Rajhamany Srinivasan (7) and Yo Mahesh (0) to leave iDKK reeling at 48-4 at the half-way mark.

All-rounder Maan K Bafna (21 off 20 balls, 2 sixes) and wicketkeeper S Ganesh (20 off 18 balls, 1 four, 1 six) revived the innings by putting on 33 runs off 30 balls for the fifth wicket before Shajahan stepped up.

The tall left-hander began clobbering the LKK attack, which began to wilt under the assault. The 21-year-old from Coimbatore was involved in the best stand of the innings, raising 46 runs off 26 balls for the seventh wicket with R Rajkumar (13 off 10 balls, 1 six) that brought them close to the target.

In the last six balls, iDKK needed 25 runs but LKK medium-pacer Antony Dhas (2-26) stood equal to the challenge by conceding just nine runs and also claiming Rajkumar.

Earlier, iDKK bowlers did a remarkable job of restricting LKK after the latter had raked up 84 runs for the first wicket in 65 balls. Between the 11th and 15th overs, iDKK bowlers came up trumps claiming four wickets for 29 runs as LKK batsmen’s attempts to increase the scoring rate failed miserably.

Fast bowler Sunil Sam led the bowling honours in that period with a superb spell of 2-0-9-1 while spinners S Swaminathan (1-25) and M Shajahan (1-4) claimed a wicket each to dent LKK’s progress.

The last quarter of LKK’s innings was relatively better, gathering 41 runs for the loss of three wickets. Malolan Rangarajan, who came in at No.7, finished the innings on a high note with a six and four in the last over bowled by medium-pacer R Rajkumar. In fact, it was the most productive over for LKK as 17 runs came off it with Krishnmoorthy Vignesh striking a six off the first ball.

LKK’s second half of the innings was in sharp contrast to the first when openers M Shahrukh Khan (59 off 43 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes) and captain Abhinav Mukund (32, 31b, 3 fours) were at the crease. The tall Shahrukh was the more aggressive of the two, striking a six off the fourth ball of the innings and finding boundaries off almost every bowler he faced.

The left-handed Mukund had a relatively quiet start, scoring his first boundary in the sixth over. With his partner going great guns at the other end, he was content with playing the support cast until misfortune struck in the 11th over when he was run out by a direct hit from rival captain Aniruda Srikkanth. Mukund failed to regain his crease after Shahrukh had driven pacer RD Ashwin Kumar straight to Aniruda at mid-on.

Mukund’s dismissal came right after Shahrukh had brought up his fifty with a firm punch to the cover fence off Ashwin Kumar. The LKK opener appeared to be affected by the exit of his captain as he scored just nine runs off nine balls after that before miscuing a hit off Sunil Sam to Yo Mahesh at mid-on.

After the fall of Mukund, LKK could add only 70 runs in 9.5 overs losing six wickets in the process.

iDKK continued to shuffle their pack in search of a winning combination. Fast bowler Ashwath Mukunthan, leg-spinner S Kishan Kumar, top-order batsman V Aditya, who played their last match against Tuti Patriots were replaced by all-rounders Yo Mahesh, S Swaminathan and batsman M Shajahan. LKK also made three changes to the team that lost to Siechem Madurai Panthers bringing in leg-spinner S Manigandan, all-rounder Malolan Rangarajan and wicketkeeper Pradosh Ranjan Paul in place of B Anirudh Sita Ram, Jaganath Sinivas and Mohammed Ashiq.

Both teams travel to India Cements Limited-Sankar Nagar ground, Tirunelveli for their last league matches. iDream Karaikudi Kaalai face defending champions Siechem Madurai Panthers on Thursday (August 8) while Lyca Kovai Kings meet table toppers Dindigul Dragons a day earlier on Wednesday (August 7).

Brief scores: Lyca Kovai Kings 154-7 in 20 overs (M Shahrukh Khan 59, Abhinav Mukund 32; Sunil Sam 1-22, R Rajkumar 2-38) beat iDream Karaikudi Kaalai 139-7 in 20 overs (Aniruda Srikkanth 24, Maan K Bafna 21, S Ganesh 20, M Shajahan 41 not out; Thangarasu Natarajan 1-17, Malolan Rangarajan 2-10, Antony Dhas 2-26) by 15 runs.

Toss: LKK, elected to bat

Points:Lyca Kovai Kings 2; iDream Karaikudi Kaalai 0

Umpires:M Kuppuraj, R Rajesh Kannan.TV umpire:JR Madanagopal.

Match referee:S Sharath.

MATCH AWARDS

Sankar Cement Man of the Match:Shahrukh Khan (LKK)

Sankar Cement Maximum 6s: Shahrukh Khan (LKK), Maan K Bafna, M Shajahan (both iDKK)

TCM-Nippon Paint Atom Best All-rounder:Malolan Rangarajan (LKK)

SNJ VSOP Adhiradhi Four:Shahrukh Khan (LKK)

BKT Tyres Commander of the Match: Abhinav Mukund (LKK)

Sprite Juicy+ Refreshing Player:S Ajith Ram (LKK)

TVS Most Valuable Player of the Match:Thangarasu Natarajan (LKK)

Sharon Ply Strong Performer of the Match:Thangarasu Natarajan (LKK)

POINTS TABLE:

Teams Matches Win       Loss Points NRR
Dindigul Dragons 5 5 0 10 +1.194
Chepauk Super Gillies 6 4 2 8 +1.367
Siechem Madurai Panthers 6 4 2 8 +0.689
VB Kanchi Veerans 5 3 2 6 +0.836
Lyca Kovai Kings 6 3 3 6 -0.031
Tuti Patriots 5 2 3 4 -1.155
iDream Karaikudi Kaalai 6 1 5 2 -2.208
Ruby Trichy Warriors 5 0 5 0 -0.778