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Ajitesh, Rithik power Nellai Royal Kings to TNPL final

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Last updated on 11 Jul 2023 | 07:01 AM
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Ajitesh, Rithik power Nellai Royal Kings to TNPL final

The Arun Karthik-led side will lock horns against Lyca Kovai Kings in the final of the TNPL 2023 on Wednesday, July 12

Nellai Royal Kings edged past Dindigul Dragons by seven wickets in the second Qualifier of the Tamil Nadu Premier League at The India Cements Cricket Ground in Tirunelveli.

In the second Qualifier, Nellai Royal Kings won the toss and opted to field first. Vimal Khumar kicked things off with a cover drive on the first delivery of the match. Vimal Khumar then departed inside the powerplay for 16(15).

Shivam Singh began his innings with two sixes and a four in the powerplay to help Dindigul Dragons reach 48 for one after six overs. Along with Boopathi Kumar, he steadied the innings for the Dragons, who were consistent with their run rate. Shivam Singh brought up his fourth half-century of the season in 37 balls. Notably, this is his consecutive fifty against Nellai Royal Kings.

Despite being expensive, Sandeep Warrier drew the curtains to the 81-run third wicket stand by dismissing Boopathi Kumar for 41(28). He completed his spell with 1 for 34. Shivam Singh notched up 76 off 46 before Lakshay Jain eliminated him, and Poiyamozhi's slow delivery was once again effective as Adithya Ganesh fell for 13(14).

Sonu Yadav's penultimate over pulled things back for Nellai Royal Kings as Dindigul Dragons managed only three runs and lost Sarath Kumar. The all-rounder was the pick of the bowlers for Nellai Royal Kings with two wickets.

Chasing 186 to reach the final, KB Arun Karthik and P Sugendhiran gave an aggressive start to the innings, including a 16-run over off Saravana Kumar. Aushik Srinivas brought the end to the 37-run stand, and Arun Karthik departed for 26(15).

G Ajitesh got off the mark with consecutive boundaries and then followed it up with a couple of sixes in the next over. Varun Chakaravarthy fetched a wicket in his first over once again. He struck on the 2nd ball of his over to dismiss Sugendran for 22.

Nidhish Rajagopal and Ajitesh had a slow start to their partnership. A 16-run over off G Kishoor shifted the momentum towards the chasing side. Also, in the same over, Ajitesh brought up his third half-century (fourth fifty-plus score) of the season in 29 balls and currently holds the Orange Cap of the season.

Nidhish Rajagopal (26 off 27 balls) struggled to time the ball, and he became the first player to be retired out in TNPL 2023. His departure brought in Rithik Easwaran.

When Nellai Royal Kings needed 37 in the last two overs, Rithik Easwaran smoked four sixes, and Ajitesh smashed one to gather 33 runs in the 19th over off G Kishoor. Nellai Royal Kings needed four runs in the final over and then one run off the last ball. Rithik Easwaran completed the chase by smacking one over the fence to take Nellai Royal Kings to the final.

The player of the match, G Ajitesh, said: This win has given us confidence. I knew if we took this game to the end, we would win, as we had players like Sonu Yadav. Rithik Easwaran's hard work paid off today.

The losing captain, Baba Indrajith, said: We were on top until the final two overs. Ajitesh and Rithik were the reasons for our loss. Our team witnessed several young performers this season. We will look into all these and will come back stronger in the next season.

The winning captain, KB Arun Karthik, said: This was unbelievable. Credits go to Dindigul Dragons for a tough fight. We thought we could get only 160-165 at this venue. Dindigul Dragons batted well and showed us the way. Our team has practised for situations like this, and we executed well today. We have not thought about the finals yet.

Nellai Royal Kings will meet Lyca Kovai Kings in the final of the TNPL 2023 on Wednesday.

(Image and Match report courtesy: TNPL)

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