CHENNAI: KB Arun Karthik – one of most experienced players in the Tamil Nadu line-up – has had a lean run at the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament with 74 runs from the first six games. But the 34-year-old’s unbeaten 89 helped Tamil Nadu beat Rajasthan by seven wickets at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday to make their second successive final in the tournament. The other notable contribution for TN came from medium-pacer M Mohammed who shone with 4 for 24.
In pursuit of 155, TN saw C Hari Nishaanth (4) and B Aparajith (2) depart early. Karthik, in the company of N Jagadeesan (28, 3×4), steadied the ship with a 52-run stand for the third wicket. The two kept the scoreboard ticking with some crisp running between the wickets and punishing the loose deliveries. Karthick was watchful to start with, but grew in confidence as the game progressed.
Once Jagadeesan was dismissed in the 10th over, Karthik saw the arrival of skipper Dinesh Karthik (26 n.o. 3×4). The duo’s unfinished stand of 89 for the fourth wicket help TN seal the deal with 8 balls to spare. Karthik, who returned to the TN fold after a gap of six years, hit 9 fours and 3 sixes during his 54-ball innings. Karthick, on 71, was dropped twice but TN had pretty much taken control of the proceedings.
The first half of play saw Mohammed put brakes on Rajasthan’s scoring in the death overs as they ended on 154-9 thanks to the efforts of skipper Ashok Menaria (51, 5×4, 2×6) and Arijit Gupta (45, 2×4, 3×6). Menara, who arrived at the fall of Bharat Sharma in the opening over, began by adding 37 for the second wicket with Aditya Garhwal (29, 5×4, 1×6) before going ballistic alongside Arijit. The Menaria-Arijit pair added 83 for the 3rd wicket that helped Rajasthan reach 120 in the 14th over.
Rajasthan’s top-order were beneficiaries of TN’s poor fielding efforts. Shahrukh Khan grassed a straight forward chance of Aditya (when on 5) at short cover region before Aswin Crist dropped Arijit and Menaria when the duo were on 10 and 48 respectively. Mohammed’s final over – that cost just 2 runs and fetched 3 wickets – made sure TN finished on a strong note.
Brief scores: Rajasthan 154-9 in 20 overs (Ashok Menaria 51, Arijit Gupta 45; Mohammed 4-24). Tamil Nadu 158-3 in 18.4 overs (KB Arun Karthick 89 n.o.). Tamil Nadu won by 7 wickets.