Set to get under way on Monday at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, the fifth edition of the TNPL will be hosted in bio-secure confines in Chennai and will run till August 15. The entire tournament will unfortunately be held in front of empty galleries and in an eerie atmosphere, deeply missing the fans who add flavour.
But, the high-octane action that the event offers will be no different from the previous seasons. Runs, fours, sixes, wickets and catches will be the buzzwords for the next month in the Tamil Nadu cricket fraternity, which has had little to talk since the conclusion of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 Chennai leg in April. Delivering them would be the eight franchises, who have been sharpening their skills in the rather short yet productive pre-season. The participating teams will have different goals to accomplish in TNPL 2021, with defending champion Chepauk Super Gillies (CSG) once again setting its sights on the title.
Ably coached by TNPL’s most successful tactician Hemang Badani and led by the vastly experienced Kaushik Gandhi, Super Gillies will undoubtedly wear the favourite tag in Season 5. It will take some doing to stop two-time title-winner CSG, which is stacked with game-changers in all departments of the game.
Having come agonisingly close to the crown in the 2019 edition, Dindigul Dragons (DD) will do everything in its power to go the distance this time around. Following successful runs in the previous two seasons, TNPL 2018 winner Siechem Madurai Panthers (SMP) will be keen to reach the play-offs for a third year in succession. After failing to make the cut for the final-four in the last edition, Lyca Kovai Kings (LKK) and Ruby Trichy Warriors (RTW) would hope to create a few ripples.
Meanwhile, Salem Spartans (SS), Nellai Royal Kings (NRK) and iDream Tiruppur Tamizhans (ITT) will look to make an impact in their first season.
Star cast missing
A number of players with high pedigree will give the competition a miss due to various reasons. While Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar are on national duty in England, Dinesh Karthik is in the United Kingdom for a commentary stint.
Murali Vijay and Anirudha Srikanth have made themselves unavailable for personal reasons, with Thangarasu Natarajan undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru post a knee surgery. Abhinav Mukund removed his name from the player draft and will call the shots from behind the microphone.
Varun Chakravarthy, R Sai Kishore and Sandeep Warrier, who are with Team India for the Sri Lanka tour, are expected to feature in the second half of TNPL 2021.
Salem takes on Kovai in opener
Salem Spartans (SS) will begin its TNPL Season 5 campaign with a clash against Lyca Kovai Kings (LKK) in the tournament’s opening fixture at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Monday.