Jolly Rovers retains the Rajah of Palayampatti Shield

Aparajith, Harish help team win the TNCA First Division League title
The victorious Jolly Rovers CC squad poses for a team photograph
The victorious Jolly Rovers CC squad poses for a team photograph

Chennai

Baba Aparajith (89 off 187 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) and No.9 NS Harish (59 not out off 123 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) saved their best for the last as Jolly Rovers CC (246 for 8 in 84.3 overs) edged out Vijay CC (245 in 82.3 overs) in the 2019-20 season final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Monday to retain the Rajah of Palayampatti Shield. 
Courtesy of its superior first-innings show in the drawn two-day summit clash, Jolly Rovers clinched its 21st TNCA First Division League title. Kaushik Gandhi-led Jolly Rovers, which began the final day on its overnight score of 37 for three, got the job done the hard way. 
The defending champion had the worst possible start, losing Ankeet Bawane – who was run out at the non-striker’s end in an unfortunate manner – off just the second ball of the day. Sonu Yadav (19) then put on a 56-run partnership with Aparajith for the fifth wicket before being undone by left-arm spinner Rahil Shah (2 for 72). 
Jalaj Saxena (33 off 47 balls, 4 fours) made a meaningful contribution and shared a 49-run sixth-wicket alliance along with Aparajith, but Jolly Rovers was in a spot of bother at 145 for seven before lunch. 
Despite losing partners at the other end at regular intervals, Aparajith, who started the day on 18 not out, displayed a calm head and kept the scoreboard ticking. 
Following the fall of the seventh wicket, in walked the left-handed Harish, who rose to the occasion with an unbeaten half-century. Harish stitched a vital 50-run stand with Aparajith for the eighth wicket before the latter was removed by pacer L Vignesh (5 for 84 in 26 overs). When Aparajith fell short of a deserved hundred by 11 runs, Jolly Rovers needed 51 runs to get past Vijay’s first innings total. 
Harish and No.10 Kiran Akash (13 not out off 52 balls) astonishingly forged a match-winning, unbroken ninth-wicket partnership, which was worth 51 runs off 94 balls, to guide their team to the title. Vijay shuffled its bowlers around – using seven in total – in search of a breakthrough, but failed in its pursuit. Vignesh was the pick of the bowlers for Vijay, earning his second successive five-wicket haul in the knockout stage. 
Brief scores: Final: Vijay CC 245 drew with Jolly Rovers 246/8 in 84.3 overs (Baba Aparajith 89, Jalaj Saxena 33, NS Harish 59*, L Vignesh 5/84, Rahil Shah 2/72)

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