Ruthless battle for remaining two playoff spots- TNPL weekly roundup
As the tournament has reached its business phase, stakes have become a lot higher with each team slated to play only seven matches in the league stage.
Dindigul Dragons and Madurai Panthers are already through to the playoffs. Karaikudi Kalai have four wins out of six matches and with a strong net run rate of + 0.643, one would expect them to qualify to the next round irrespective of the result of their last match. However, if they lose by a hefty margin, it can well turn out to be an anticlimax for them. This effectively means that Karaikudi Kalai are in a ruthless battle with Lyca Kovai Kings, Tuti Patriots and Ruby Trichy Warriors.
While Lyca Kovai kings and Tuti Patriots have quite a realistic chance of making it to the playoffs, Ruby Trichy Warriors are holding on by the skin of their teeth. Both Kovai kings and Patriots have three wins and three losses out of the six games. But due to their strong net run rate, they can have a clear shot at the playoffs if they win by a good enough margin.
On the contrary, for Ruby Trichy Warriors to qualify they will have to depend on the results of the other two matches. For them to sneak through to the playoffs, Madurai Panthers need to defeat Lyca Kovai Kings and Karaikudi Kalai need to beat Tuti Patriots. Apart from these two matches, the Trichy Warriors have to obviously win their only remaining game against VB Kanchi Veerans by a substantial margin.
S Anirudh, Arun Karthick and N Jagadeesan are the three batsman that are neck and neck and in contention for the leading scorers of TNPL 2018. S Anirudh of idream Karaikudi Kaalai has piled up 308 runs in six matches with an average of over 60. Anirudh's highest score is an unbeaten 93 and he sports a strike rate of more than 160. He has been quite consistent with two half centuries to his name.
Following him is Arun Karthick who is just two runs shy of being the leading scorer himself. The Madurai Panthers' batsman has an astonishing average of over 75 and a strike rate of over 155. If Anirudh has scored two fifties, Karthick has been in a zone of his own with four 50s against his name.
N Jagadeesan, who recently helped Dindigul Dragons to qualify to the playoffs, is at the third spot with 302 runs from 7 matches. Jagadeesan has an average of over 75. However, his strike rate of around 135 is a bit lukewarm.
Meanwhile, after an unbeaten 111-run blast in the initial phase of the tournament, Kaushik Gandhi has slipped to the 6th spot with 218 runs in 6 matches. He has not been able to produce any magical performance after his squash-buckling hundred which remains his only 50+ score in the tournament till now.
V Athisayaraj Davidson of Tuti Patriots is leading the bowling charts with 11 wickets in 6 matches and best figures of 35 for 3. Athisayaraj has been the lead bowler for the Patriots. Although he has gone for plenty of runs with an economy of close to 9, his wicket taking ability has kept him in the mix. This is the nature of the beast called T20, isn't it? One should not be afraid to go for runs as long as he can make crucial breakthroughs for his team.
YO Mahesh from idream Karaikudi Kaalai is at the 2nd spot with 10 wickets in 6 matches. He has an average of 16 which is commendable by T20 standards. Also, he has not let the batsmen get away and has bowled tightly with an economy of under seven.
Ajith Ram is at the third spot. Ram has the best strike rate of the tournament till now with it being just a shade over 10. If Ram had not missed a couple of matches, there was every possibility that he would be leading the bowling charts. He has nine wickets to his name from just four matches and a brilliant economy of six.
Ram's Kovai Kings team mate MP Rajesh is at the fourth spot with nine wickets in six matches. Following him is Ganpathi Chandrasekhar who remains the only bowler to bag a fifer in the tournament till now. However, Chandrasekhar has not hit his straps in the remaining matches and needs to be a bit more consistent to have a bigger impact for his team.
The bigger picture
It has been a complete change of fortunes for the Madurai Panthers this year. The team which had not won a single match in the first two years of the tournament came back strongly this year to storm into the playoffs. Lead by Arun Karthick with the bat and Varun Chakravarthy with the ball, the Panthers have won five out of their six games and are in contention for the trophy.
On the other hand, Ravichandran Ashwin's Dindigul Dragons has also confirmed a playoff berth with an easy win over Chepauk Super Gillies in their last match of the league stage with match-winning contributions from M Silambarasan and N Jagadeesan. The team is sitting at the top of the points table and would give Panthers a run for their money for the TNPL trophy.