Dindigul Dragons failed to breathe fire on a hot sunny afternoon and went down by 16 runs to a fighting Lyca Kovai Kings in the Indian Cements TNPL at the ICL grounds here on Tuesday.
Dragons, having already booked a semifinal berth alongside Chepauk Super Gillies. preferred to test their bench and it cost them dearly.
The Kings, on the other hand, were forced to dish out their best. They had nearly stunned the Thiruvallur Veerans at Chepauk the other day. That two-run defeat meant they had to start all over again. They did that quite nicely by electing to bat on a pitch that was expected to assist the bowlers.
Openers L. Suryapprakash (51, 50b, 4×4, 1×6) and B. Anirudh (38, 29b, 3×4, 1×6) played with a lot of purpose and stitched a 67-run stand, the most productive for the day.
The left-handed Anirudh was the man in command and chipped in a couple of boundaries before hoisting Wilkins Victor for a huge six.
Leg spinner M. Ashwin and medium pacer S. Raghunath tightened the screws a bit in the middle overs. But it was left-arm spinner M. Silambarasan who got the big break for the team.
He bowled one that spun viciously and Anirudh stepped out for a big one only to offer a difficult return catch to the bowler. Silambarasan read the height well before completing the catch.
He struck again in the very next over removing R. Rohith, but Suryapprakash continued to work patiently and soon registered his first half century with a fine six. But with wickets falling at regular intervals, it took a nice little cameo from M. Mohammed (27 n.o., 12b, 1×4, 2x 6) to take the team to a decent 147 for six.
Chasing 148, the Dragons started cautiously as opener G.S. Raju was rattled by a beauty quite early from medium pacer K. Vignesh. The Kings bowlers cashed in on the chance and applied the pressure. And, the Dindigul boys found themselves scoring their lowest PowerPlay total (23 for one).
But in-form opener N. Jagadeesan (58, 54b, 4×4, 2×6), the tournament’s highest scorer, kept the team in the hunt working the gaps before striking it hot.
Just when fortunes seemed to sway Dindigul’s way, medium pacer S. Harish Kumar (three for 20), the man of the match, struck a double blow while Vignesh removed the dangerous looking Jagadeesan.
The Dragons lost five wickets for 16 runs in the space of 13 balls and that spelt doom.
The scores: Lyca Kovai Kings 147 for six in 20 overs (B. Anirudh 38, L. Suryapprakash 51, M. Mohammed 27, M. Silambarasan two for 17) bt Dindigul Dragons 131 for eight in 20 overs (N. Jagadeesan 58, M. Vignesh three for 29, S. Harish Kumar three for 20).