back icon


Nidish's dazzling batting takes Nellai Royal Kings to Qualifier 2 in last-ball thriller

article_imageMATCH REPORT
Last updated on 09 Jul 2023 | 04:55 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
Nidish's dazzling batting takes Nellai Royal Kings to Qualifier 2 in last-ball thriller

Siechem Madurai Panthers gave their all but had to finish second on the night to a determined Nellai side

The half-centuries from G Ajitesh and Nidhish Rajagopal helped the Nellai Royal Kings post 211/6 in the 1st inning of the Eliminator of 2023 Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) at Salem Cricket Foundation Ground on Saturday.

Siechem Madurai Panthers Opted to field first, Gurjapneet Singh's opening over went for 11 runs, but an outstanding grab by the keeper Lokeshwar to dismiss Suryaprakash brought them back into the game.

G. Ajitesh has been a floater in the Nellai Royal Kings' line-up throughout TNPL 2023. He batted at the top in a few games and as a finisher in some of the matches. Walking in at number three today, Ajitesh began his innings with consecutive boundaries off P Saravanan. KB Arun Karthick followed it up by scoring nine runs off Gurjapneet Singh's over.

In the fourth over, Swapnil Singh struck Arun Karthick in line with the stumps, and the Nellai Royal Kings captain had to depart for 18 (12).

Ajitesh was timing the ball well today. He found three fours and a six in Ajay Krishna's fifth over and two more boundaries in Swapnil Singh's over to end the powerplay with 66 for 2.

The overs 7 to 11 belonged to the Siechem Madurai Panthers. Murugan Ashwin, bowling with a fracture, bowled three overs, went for 12 runs during this phase, and removed G. Ajitesh. The in-form batter completed his half-century in 29 deliveries and departed in the next delivery while trying to drive a wider delivery.

Nellai Royal Kings were still all set for a big score after crossing the 100-run mark in the 12th over, with Nidhish Rajagopal and Sonu Yadav in the middle.

Nidhish Rajagopal was the perfect second fiddle to Ajitesh, who was launching from the other end. When he departed, the left-hander took charge. Back-to-back sixes off Ajay Krishna brought him back on track, and he completed his half-century in 35 deliveries.

A 38-ball 78-run stand between Nidhish Rajagopal and Sonu Yadav ended in P Saravanan's over when Sonu Yadav tried to clear the mid-wicket boundary.

The dew factor came into play in the final few overs. Gurjapneet Singh was a victim of the same and ended up bowling a waist-high no-ball. Nidhish Rajagopal ramped it over the third-man fence. The free hit went for a boundary as well. The change of ball did not bring about a change in fortune for Gurjapneet Singh, as Nellai Royal Kings gathered 21 runs in the over.

Ajay Krishna's off-day continued in the 19th over as well. The pacer, who had changed the course of the game towards the Siechem Madurai Panthers in several league games this season, leaked runs today. Despite grabbing the wicket of the top scorer, Nidhish Rajagopal (76 off 50), his over went for 22 runs. During the run-hunt, Nellai Royal Kings also crossed the 200-run mark in the over.

Gurjapneet Singh pulled things back in the final over by giving up just four runs. Nellai Royal Kings ended with 211/6 in their 20 overs.

Siechem with a daunting run-chase at stakes

The Siechem Madurai Panthers had no choice but to go for big shots right from ball one. When Sonu Yadav dismissed Hari Nishaanth for four runs, Aaditya and Lokeshwar had to lead the charge. The duo found boundaries at regular intervals to gather 62 runs in the powerplay.

A miscommunication in the middle then brought the end of a 63-run stand as Lokeshwar had to depart for 40 off 26. Swapnil Singh turned anchor to Aaditya, who crossed his half-century in 36 deliveries.

The Siechem Madurai Panthers were consistent in their chase. They scored 94 in their first ten overs and needed 118 in the next ten overs. With wickets in hand, both batters had the freedom to go berserk in the latter half of the innings. Aaditya and Swapnil Singh launched from both sides as the pair mustered 62 runs in the next five overs (10–15). Sandeep Warrier made it easier for the duo with a no-ball in the 15th over. The over went for 21 runs.

Slower deliveries from Poiyamozhi and wide yorkers from Sonu Yadav provided a breather for the Nellai Royal Kings as the Required run rate climbed over 16. Aaditya succumbed to pressure. He had to depart for an excellent 73 (50), putting an end to a 98-run third-wicket partnership.

J. Koushik finally got one over the cover drive to score an important boundary, and a straight six from Swapnil Singh ended the penultimate over on a positive note for the Siechem Madurai Panthers.

The Siechem Madurai Panthers needed 19 off the final over. Due to the slow overrate, five fielders had to stay inside the circle.

Mohan Prasath began the over with a wide yorker. Koushik dislodged the next delivery, a full toss, over a square-leg fence for a maximum. Mohan Prasath nailed the yorker again, leaving 12 runs to get from the final three deliveries.

At 19.3, Swapnil Singh mistimed a full toss to find Ajitesh in the covers. He had to depart for 48 (30). When the Siechem Madurai Panthers needed two sixes in as many deliveries, Saravanan got off the mark with an 80-metre six over the sight screen.

The final delivery witnessed Mohan Prasath slip a full toss. Saravanan swung his bat but could not clear the fence this time. The Nellai Royal Kings held their nerve to win the Eliminator by four runs.

The winning captain, KB Arun Karthick, said: A huge credit must go to the groundspeople and those who prepared the pitch. It was an excellent pitch to bat on. Congrats to the Siechem Madurai Panthers for taking the game to the end. Poiyamozhi and Sonu Yadav got us back in the game in the death overs. We will bring our A-game against Dindigul Dragons as well.

The losing captain, Hari Nishaanth, said: Though the target was big, I thought we could have chased it. The message to the players was to take the game until the end, and nobody should underestimate our talent. Our players executed it well. This season was disappointing for me as a batter. We will come back stronger in the next season. The player of the match, Nidhish Rajagopal, said: My grandfather passed away recently. He motivated me to take up cricket. I want to dedicate this letter to him. To talk about our batting, Ajitesh gave us a good start, and the other batters continued from there.

Nellai Royal Kings will meet Dindigul Dragons in the second Qualifier. Dindigul Dragons lost the first Qualifier against Lyca Kovai Kings earlier this week. The winner of the match will march to the final, which will take place on July 12.

(Images and Match Courtesy: TNPL)

Related Article