Chasing 197, Kovai lost the early wicket of L Suryaprakash and were off to a slow start. But M Vijay brought all his experience and class into play. Not only did he steady the ship but he also went hammer and tongs after settling in.
Kovai had no choice, but to go after the bowling since they were chasing a big total.
Vijay was particularly harsh on Malolan Rangarajan who he hit for 26 runs in an over, inclusive of two boundaries and two sixes. The pair of Anirudh Sita Ram and Vijay put on a partnership of 104 runs in 60 balls before the latter got out. He was beaten by the turn of Sanjay Yadav, offering a simple catch to Baba Aparajith at cover point.
Veerans looked like they were making a comeback after two tight overs, but Anirudh kept Kovai in the hunt as he completed his first fifty of this years TNPL. Akshay Srinivasan gave him good company as well and the equation came down to 35 runs off the last three overs.
Hari Nishaanth spilled a difficult chance off Anirudh, when he dived in at long leg as Kovai required 23 off last two. Silambarasans first two deliveries went for boundaries, but he came back well leaving Kovai to get 11 runs off the last over.
The 69-run partnership between Anirudh and Akshay came to an end when Akshay edged one to the wicketkeeper. With five to defend off the last ball, Abhishek Tanwar bowled a costly no-ball that resulted in an overthrow as Kovai required two off a free hit. Fittingly, Anirudh finished the match as he got the winning runs.
After being put into bat first, the Veerans were cautious during the powerplay, not losing wickets while also getting that odd boundary every over. Just after the powerplay, they lost both the openers when S Siddharth was stumped off Ajith Ram and NS Chaturved was out after M Mohammed dived forward to hold on to a good catch off MK Shivakumar. The two new batsmen, Baba Aparajith and Hari Nishaanth, looked in great touch.
At 94/2, M Mohammed missed an easy run out chance of Hari Nishaanth off his own bowling. It didnt prove costly as he got out soon after, but when Aparajith (60) was dropped at 26 at deep mid-wicket by Anirudh Sita Ram off Ajith Ram, he made Kovai pay. Aparajith took on Ajith Ram (2 for 33) in the 16th over smacking him for three huge sixes. The Veerans skipper and Abhishek Tanwar shared a partnership of 56 in just 26 balls.
It was a sloppy fielding display by Kovai when wicketkeeper R Rohith messed up a run-out chance of Abhishek Tanwar (55 not out) was on 20. He was again dropped on 32 by Shivakumar before smashing a 19-ball 50. K Vignesh (2 for 29) made late strikes but Kovai got 82 runs in the last five overs including ten sixes and two fours, and ended with a mammoth 196 for 6 in 20 overs.
Image Courtesy: Vinodh Mathew