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Kings rule the roost
Abhinav Mukund-led Kovai registers an emphatic eight-wicket win over Kanchi Veerans
Kovai Kings eased to a eight-wicket win over VB Kanchi Veerans to launch its title bid for the fourth edition of the TNPL on a winning note. Set to chase 151, Kovai got off to a flier reaching 79 for no loss in the Powerplay. Kovai captain Abhinav Mukund led from the front remaining unbeaten on 70 off 44, and his opening partner M Shahrukh Khan contributed a quickfire 40 off 21 balls. Kovai won the match with 4.4 overs remaining.
Earlier, a late-innings blitz from P Francis Rokins, who scored 25 off seven balls, enabled VB Kanchi Veerans reach a respectable 150 for six against Kovai Kings.
The last six overs of Veerans’ innings yielded 60 runs, and Rokins, walking in at number eight, was particularly harsh on leg-spinner Manigandan clobbering him for 24 runs in the 19th over that included three huge sixes, the last of which landed outside the ground.
Until that over, Manigandan had impressive figures of three overs 16 runs and two wickets. Manigandan, however, exacted revenge by getting rid of Rokins off his last ball but his figures took a beating as he ended up conceding 40 runs off his quota of four overs. Kanchi got off to the worst possible start losing both its openers with only two runs on board.
Kovai pacers K Vignesh and T Natarajan were impressive taking a wicket each in the opening two overs. Natarajan, in fact, took a wicket off his first delivery by bringing the ball back in to remove southpaw K Vishal Vaidhya. Kanchi then staged a recovery act through its experienced captain B Aparajith, and promising wicket-keeper S Lokeshwar, who added 62 runs for the third wicket. Just when it seemed that Aparajith was looking good to add a few more, he fell to Manigandan while trying to up the ante.
Aparajith contributed 29 off 34. Lokeshwar, meanwhile, was slow to get off the blocks but he soon chanced his arm and essayed some pleasing strokes off spinners Ajith Ram and Malolan Rangarajan, hitting both of them for sixes in successive overs. Together with all-rounder R Sanjay Yadav, Lokeshwar added 51 runs for the fourth wicket and in the process completed a deserving half-century. But Kanchi Veerans suffered a double jolt as both the set batsmen were out in the space of one run with four overs remaining.
Brief scores: VB Kanchi Veerans 150/6 in 20 overs (S Lokeshwar 51, R Sanjay Yadav 31, B Aparajith 29, P Francis Rokins 25, S Manigandan 3/40) lost to Kovai Kings 151/2 in 15.2 overs (Abhinav Mukund 70*, M Shahrukh Khan 40)