The 31-year-old Mani Bharathy was delighted that he could justify the faith shown in him by coach Badrinath.

Mani Bharathi
Mani Bharathi. (Photo by: Sandeep Shetty/Focus Sports/ TNPL)

Chennai, July 25: Dindigul Dragons rode on a blistering batting display from K Mani Bharathy to upstage Lyca Kovai Kings by five wickets in an entertaining run-fest at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday.

Wicketkeeper Bharathy, promoted to No.3 by coach S Badrinath, smashed 81 runs off just 32 balls, including 8 fours and five sixes to make a mockery of Kovai Kings’ total of 201. Dindigul attained the target of 202 in 18 overs losing five wickets and it was the highest-ever successful run chase in the history of the tournament.

Opener C Hari Nishaant, who stood as captain in the absence of R Srinivasan battling an adductor injury, was equally effective cracking 70 runs in 37 balls, including 6 fours and 5 sixes.

Hari Nishant and Mani Bharathi shine

The Bharathy-Nishaanth partnership was breathtaking as they amassed 153 runs in just 58 balls to power Dindigul’s victory. The Coimbatore duo was ruthless, carting 10 sixes and 14 fours during their rollicking alliance.

Kovai Kings, however, did make a strong bid once Bharathy was dismissed by part-time off-break bowler V Ganga Sridhar Raju. Off the next ball, R Vivek too followed suit and in the next over by left-arm spinner N Selva Kumaran, two more wickets fell, including that of Hari Nishaanth. It meant Dindigul had lost four wickets in the space of four balls and suddenly the heat was back on them.

However, S Lokeshwar (9 not out off 10 balls) and S Swaminathan (17 not out off 11 balls) stood up to the challenge and saw the side through.

It was not a happy outing for the bowlers as 403 runs were scored in the match that saw 15 bowlers in action who claimed just six wickets between them.

Mani Bharathi over the moon

The 31-year-old Mani Bharathy was delighted that he could justify the faith shown in him by coach Badrinath. “I’m very happy that I played for the team and took them to victory. I wasn’t supposed to go at number three initially but our coach believed in me and sent me up the order. Immediately after playing the first over I felt like I was hitting well so I thought I could take the team to victory,” he said.

Earlier, the Kovai Kings unleashed their batting power with their premier batsmen posting a strong 201-1 in 20 overs. Opener V Sridhar Ganga Raju led the run-fest by carrying the bat with a brilliant 90 not out off 57 balls, smacking 6 fours and 7 sixes. But it was debutant J Suresh Kumar who led the initial assault with a 40-ball 58 (7 fours, 1 six). The 31-year-old dominated the opening partnership of 108 off 74 balls with Raju.

Suresh Kumar’s dismissal in the 13th over did little to stop the onslaught as in walked the young Bhardwaj Sai Sudharsan and he did not waste time in making his impression in the match. Together with Raju, the two left-handers raised 93 off just 47 balls in their unbeaten second partnership.

The 20-year-old Sudharsan struck four fours in his unbeaten knock of 40 that came off 24 balls.

Raju also had the distinction of becoming the first batsman this season to hit the BKT Tires giant tire situated a few yards from the mid-wicket boundary.

Sunday’s knock catapulted the 28-year-old to the top of the run chart (197 from 3 matches), with Sai Sudharsan (184 runs) not far off in the second spot.

Fast bowler R Suthesh (1-26) was the only Dindigul bowler who earned some respect from the Kovai batsmen.

Raju, who scored 90 and took two wickets yet ended up on the losing side, felt his bowlers could have done a better job. “We set a good target but the bowling could have definitely been better. It’s very disheartening,” he said.

Brief scores: Lyca Kovai Kings 201-1 in 20 overs (Ganga Sridhar Raju 90*,  J Suresh Kumar 58, Sai Sudharsan 40*; R Suthesh 1-26) lost to Dindigul Dragons 202-5 in 18 overs (K Mani Bharathy 81, Hari Nishaanth 70, S Arun 20, Swaminathan 17*; Ganga Sridhar Raju 2-8, Selvakumaran 1-29, E Srinivasan 1-35) by 5 wickets


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