Madurai Panthers clinch the TNPL 2018 trophy with aplomb and poise
Led by opener Arun Karthik and a steely resolve, Madurai Panthers came out with flying colours against all odds to win the tournament.
Dindigul Dragons were the team to beat this season. They were the ones led by the charismatic N Jagadeesan, with stars in their ranks and a history that spoke quite highly of the side. They started the Final as clear favorites.
Against all odds
The Dragons had thumped the Madurai Panthers in the Qualifier 1, winning by a huge margin of 75 runs. With their top 3 batsmen Hari Nishanth, N jagadeesan and R Vivek in form, these were really ominous signs for the Panthers.
Being completely outplayed just days from the Final is a very difficult thing to bounce back from and needs a lot of character. However, the team had their talismanic opener Arun Karthik who had been their star performer this season. The Panthers destroyed the Lyca Kovai Kings in the Qualifier 2 to set up the Final against Dindigul Dragons.
Abhishek Tanwar took the initiative with the ball, taking three wickets to restrict the Kings to a subpar total of 125. Arun Karthik led the team on his shoulders, scoring an unbeaten 79-run knock to take the team home with 10 balls to spare.
When it mattered the most
It was then time for the big night. Having not won a single match in the last two seasons of the league, there was less pressure on Madurai Panthers. They had already redeemed themselves by making it to the Finals. However, the team did not lose its appetite for victory when it mattered the most.
On a tough wicket that was a bit sticky and damp, runs were not easy to come by. Batting first, the Dindigul Dragons’ batsmen were completely strangled by the bowling pair of Abhishek Tanwar and Lokesh Raj.
Tanwar doubled up on his performance of Qualifier 1 to bag four wickets in the final. Lokesh Raj assisted him shoulder to shoulders to chip in with three wickets. Varun Chakravarthy, who gave the team impetus in the middle part of the tournament, also took two wickets and gave nothing away. He ended with dream figures of 4-1-9-2.
The wicket at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was quite tough to bat on. This was further proven when Panthers opener Thalaivan Sargunam was dismissed off the second ball of the innings. In the same over M Silambarasan also sent back Tushar Raheja and Captain D Rohit to get the Dindigul Dragons back in the match.
However, level headed opener Arun Karthik then took the command in his hands yet again and batted sensibly along with Shijit Chandan. As it turned out, the team chased down the modest total with almost three overs remaining. Karthik remained unbeaten on 75 along with his partner in crime Chandran.
Who said what
Rohit, Winning Captain: I can't explain how this feels. The wicket was slightly damp, and we took the decision to bowl first and it worked for us. This is just another game for us. I know we have been beaten by them twice, and we just wanted to go out there and play good cricket. The last two seasons Maurai has had nothing to cheer about and we are glad we came through this time.
Jagadeesan, Dindigul Dragons Captain: We lost a lot of wickets in the powerplay. The way Silambarasan bowled was amazing, but Arun Karthik was just amazing as usual. He's been doing well for the last 3 seasons, and he's single-handedly taken his team through. We planned very well, but he came through. We have no regrets - the character that we showed on the field was amazing.
Arun Karthik, Man of the Match: All the credit goes to the boys, the way they bowled in the final and picking up early wickets. The intent was always there. Our combination needed me to keep wickets, and fortunately I did fairly well. The credit goes to the team management. I love keeping, and I'm happy the hardwork with the gloves has paid off.
Player of the Tournament: Arun Karthik
Most wickets: Abhishek Tanwar (15 wickets)
Most runs: Arun Karthik (472 runs)
Most Sixes - Arun Karthik (23 sixes)
Most fours - Jagadeesan (45 fours)
Cricket can really be a funny game at times. A team that struggled to win even a single match through the course of two full seasons left behind past miseries to come up with a performance that is a testament to their character.
When the tournament began, nobody was expecting the Madurai Panthers to emerge as the champions. Be that as it may, led by opener Arun Karthik and a steely resolve, the team came out with flying colours against all odds. The Panthers succeeded in creating history as they walked away with the TNPL 2018 Trophy, with aplomb and poise.
©Cricket World 2018