The win was doubly sweet as it catapulted Kovai Kings to the top of the table with five points from four matches.
Chennai, July 28: Lyca Kovai Kings bounced back into contention in the Shriram Capital Tamil Nadu Premier League with a 19-run victory over Siechem Madurai Panthers at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Wednesday.
After failing to defend 201 against Dindigul Dragons on Sunday, the Kovai Kings fielded and bowled with a purpose to restrict Madurai to 153-8 in 20 overs. The win was doubly sweet as it catapulted Kovai Kings to the top of the table with five points from four matches.
Ashwin Venkatraman who plucked a stunning catch off Abhishek Tanwar to dismiss the dangerous Jagatheesan Kousik (29 off 15 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes) indicated the fielding standards set by the Kovai Kings in the match.
Medium-pacer S Divakar (3-18) and left-arm spinner S Ajith Ram (3-24) did most of the damage to the Madurai innings with their economical strikes.
Captain NS Chaturved (39 off 26 balls, 5 fours, 1 six) and opener KB Arun Karthik (21 off 12 balls, 4 fours) dominated when they were at the crease but they did not last long, both falling prey to Ajith Ram.
Shahrukh’s half-century steals the show
Chaturved conceded that they lost to a better team but also wanted his batsmen to step up in the upcoming games. “We lost to a better team because they ended their batting innings well after being run a ball at 10 overs. Even while bowling they kept taking regular wickets, didn’t allow us to build partnerships and they were extraordinary on the field, so I think they were the better team today,” he said, adding, “I think it’s time our batters pulled up their socks.”
Earlier, the bluster of captain Musa Shahrukh Khan (58 off 30 balls, 2 fours, 5 sixes) and the grit of young Bhardwaj Sai Sudharsan (61 off 52 balls, 6 fours, 1 six) powered the Kovai Kings to 172-5 in 20 overs.
The going was tough initially on a slow pitch but the 20-year-old Sudharsan put his head down and held the Kovai innings together by stringing a 55-run partnership off 44 balls for the third wicket with Ashwin Venkatraman (16 off 20 balls).
Kovai were 77-3 after 13 overs but that was when Shahrukh switched gears and started to rain sixes. Sudharsan was content playing second fiddle and the duo raised 67 runs off 40 balls for the fourth wicket.
Once Sudharsan was dismissed by pacer Kiran Akash, the big hits continued as Shahrukh was joined by all-rounder Abhishek Tanwar, who cracked 22 off 10 balls, 3 sixes.
Such was the late onslaught by the Kovai batsmen that they added 95 runs in the last seven overs.
Shahrukh Khan praises Sai Sudharsan
Sudharsan, who has been the find of the tournament leads the batting charts with 245 runs while his captain Shahrukh Khan heads the batting strike rate (208.11)
Shahrukh Khan was delighted with the way his team fought their way in the match. “It was a really good win considering it was a bad loss last game but coming into this game the bowlers stepped up a lot. Our bowling in the last game and in this match was like chalk and cheese. Our team meetings worked well,” he added.
The 26-year-old all-rounder was effusive in his praise for Sai Sudharsan. “Before the tournament, I said he’s the youngster to watch out for. He’s been fantastic, the routines that he goes through, and the mindset that he is in. There’s no need to disturb him right now, he just needs to go with the flow, continue his routines and do well,” Khan said.
Lyca Kovai KIngs 172-5 in 20 overs (Sai Sudharsan 61, Shahrukh Khan 58*, Abhishek Tanwar 22; Kiran Akash 2-40, Rohit R 1-17, Kousik J 1-32, R Silambarasan 1-37) won to Siechem Madurai Panthers 153-8 in 20 overs (NS Chaturved 39, J Kousik 29, Arun Karthick 21; R Divakar 3-18, Ajith Ram 3-24, Abhishek Tanwar 2-43) by 19 runs.