CHENNAI: Lyca Kovai Kings became the fourth and final team to qualify for the Tamil Nadu Premier League 2022 play-offs as it defeated Nellai Royal Kings by five runs at the Salem Cricket Foundation Ground in Salem on Saturday.
Kovai (8 points from 7 matches) joined Nellai (12 points from 7 matches), Chepauk Super Gillies (10 points from 7 matches) and Siechem Madurai Panthers (8 points from 6 matches) in the final-four. Kovai skipper Shahrukh Khan (2/8) rose to the occasion, defending nine runs of the final over and conceding just three with his off-spin bowling.
Sanjay Yadav (54 off 31 balls, 3 fours, 4 sixes) had taken Nellai close to the finish line during its pursuit of 178, but fell prey to Shahrukh in the last over. Prior to that, opener L Suryapprakash (45 off 33 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) and Baba Aparajith (37 off 31 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes) put on 69 runs for the second-wicket partnership.
Having finished at 172 for nine in the second essay, Royal Kings suffered its first defeat of the season. Earlier, Kovai, which opted to bat first, was restricted to 177 for four despite crucial contributions from the top-three batters.
Wicketkeeper Suresh Kumar (75 off 48 balls) was the standout batter, with his innings decorated with seven fours and three maximums. Suresh stitched a 117-run opening stand with Ganga Sridhar Raju (48 off 43 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) while B Sai Sudharsan (35 off 18 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes) came up with a cameo.
“I wanted to soak in the pressure. Death bowling is a concern for our team. We need to hit the right lengths. We will come hard in the next match. Suresh hit the ball wonderfully,” said Shahrukh post the nail-biting win.
Lyca Kovai Kings 177/4 in 20 overs (Suresh Kumar 75, Ganga Sridhar Raju 48, B Sai Sudharsan 35) bt Nellai Royal Kings 172/9 in 20 overs (Sanjay Yadav 54, L Suryapprakash 45, Shahrukh Khan 2/8, S Ajith Ram 2/23)