The Tamil Nadu Premier League, on the back of the return and triumph of Chennai Super Kings, was a massive success this year. The previous two seasons had seen Tuti Patriots face off Chepauk Super Gillies in the final, with both teams winning one time each. The third edition saw Siechem Madurai Panthers emerge as champions after two winless tournaments.
The established stars shone once again, while some of the young stars rose to the challenges and put in some splendid performances. In this article, we take a look at the best XI of the recently concluded TNPL, with consistent performers being rewarded with a place in this team.
KB Arun Karthik
He has been around the domestic circuit for a while now, having made his first-class debut way back in 2008. The most famous moment in his stop-start career came when he smashed a six off the final ball of a Champions League T20 game to secure RCB a last-ball victory.
The opener was instrumental in helping his side win the tournament. Karthik ended the tournament as the leading run scorer in the tournament, as he scored 472 runs in just 10 games at a staggering average of over 78. He also scored 6 half-centuries in the 10 games, two more than the next highest. A striking factor in his displays was that he ended up unbeaten 4 times despite opening the batting. Add to that he finished
the tournament as the leading six hitter. His 75-run knock in the final after a dismal start to a tricky run-chase showed his maturity. The IPL teams would have surely made note of his spectacular performances throughout the tournament.
The son of former Indian opener Kris Srikkanth, Anirudha has also been around the domestic circuit for quite a while and has also won multiple IPL titles with Chennai Super Kings. He looked in great touch this tournament and his 93 against Kanchi Veerans was one of the best knocks of the tournament. He ended the tournament with 347 runs in 8 matches, at an average of almost 50 and a fantastic strike rate of over 150. The 33-year old also led his side with distinction, and his performances with bat and his captaincy played a crucial role in his side qualifying for the knockout stages.
N Jagadeesan – Wicket Keeper
Jagadeesan is one of the best young cricketers going around in the Tamil Nadu circuit. He first came to the limelight in the inaugural edition of the TNPL in 2016, where he finished as the top scorer. This earned him a place in the Tamil Nadu side for Ranji Trophy later that year and he carried that form to his state team too. He has an impressive average of over 43 in domestic One Days and First Class cricket.
After a disappointing second season in TNPL, Jagadeesan was back to his best this season as he ended this season as the second highest run-scorer with 396 runs under his belt in 9 games at a phenomenal average of 66. Though Jagadeesan opened the batting for his side, he’ll slot in at 3 in this side due to his versatility. Jagadeesan has the ability to adapt his game according to the demands of the situation and his half-century in testing conditions in the final emphasize his importance.
The man who is already popular for his name grabbed eyeballs with a spectacular AB de Villiers-style catch on the boundary ropes. However, this 23-year old has also been extremely consistent with his bat for Lyca Kovai Kings this season. Opening the batting for his side, he scored 325 runs in 9 games at an impressive average and strike-rate of over 36 and 140. The young lad has shown immense maturity with the bat and it might only be a matter of time before he gets selected for Tamil Nadu’s Ranji Trophy side.
Suresh Kumar will play as the batting all-rounder in this side. Suresh Kumar batted at various positions, according to his team’s needs and contributed 225 runs in 7 matches at an average of 45. He began the tournament with two splendid performances with bat and took his side to back-to-back victories.
The 33-year old provides a lot of experience to this team and is also handy with the ball with his off-spin. He picked up 4 wickets in the 12 overs he bowled in 5 innings and conceded just 55 runs at a stunning economy rate of less than 5.
R Vivek is definitely one of the finds of this season. The right-handed batsman was always an imposing presence for his opposition due to his big-hitting prowess. His staggering strike rate of almost 210 created fear for the bowlers and has grabbed everyone’s attention this season. Vivek will play as the pinch-hitter in this side. The impressive aspect of his batting is that he can carry on his big hitting abilities for a longer duration, making him a more fearsome proposition. He ended the tournament with 262 runs at a fantastic average of 52. Combine that with his strike-rate, he is an invaluable player every side would want to have.
Sathish is a well-known figure in Indian domestic circuit. He is vastly experienced and was one of the stars of the now-defunct Indian Cricket League. Post his return, he played for various IPL franchises but failed to perform to the best of his abilities. However, the 37-year old was great with the bat this season for his side. He scored 233 runs in 7 games at a stunning average of almost 78. But his strike rate at 182 is what stands-out.
Sathish played as the finisher for his side and that’s the same role he’ll take up for this team. Sathish can also chip in with a few overs of medium-pace, as and when required.
Over the past few seasons, we have seen that leg-spinners are a great asset to have in limited overs team. Although they might go for runs, they pick up loads of wickets which halt the scoring rates. Hence, Prasanth Rajesh, who was the best leggie of this season is drafted into this XI.
The 33-year-old picked 11 up wickets in 9 games at an average of just above 18. He stifled the run scoring in the middle overs and conceded runs at an impressive economy rate of 6.80. A wicket-taking bowler, who is also capable of keeping the batsmen under check, is a bowler any captain would love to have at his disposal.
S Ajith Ram
This slow left-arm spinner was one of the best spinners in TNPL this season. He wasn’t afraid to toss the ball up and yet bowled with great control. Moreover, the young spinner was also given the duty of bowling with the new ball for his side, Lyca Kovai Kings. Ajith bowled 26 overs in 7 games this season and he picked up 11 wickets at an average of 14 and a phenomenal economy rate of just above 6.
V Athisayaraj Davidson
Although Abhishek Tanwar went past Davidson to emerge as the leading wicket-taker by picking up a 4-wicket haul in the final, the latter’s figures this season are better. Davidson opens the bowling for his team and also bowls the crucial overs at the death. He hits the deck hard and can also swing the ball both ways.
This season, he picked 13 wickets in just 7 games at an average of 19. Though his economy rate is on the expensive side, it is understandable because he bowls during the difficult phases of the game and he also possesses the knack of picking up wickets at the right times, which is a great asset to have.
Touted as India’s Mustafizur Rahman, Natarajan first grabbed everyone’s eyes with his impressive performances in Ranji Trophy cricket and the first edition of TNPL. He was awarded a hefty paycheck by the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, but was unable to do too well for his team.
Natarajan gave a reminder of his abilities in this edition of TNPL. The left-arm pacer is a death specialist, and was at his best in the game that was decided in a super-over. He has the ability to nail yorker after yorker and his cutters tend to confuse some of the best batsmen, making it extremely hard for them to have a go at him. The 27-year-old picked up 12 wickets in 8 games at a stunning average of 12.42, which is the best this season. His economy rate, which was just 5, is also mind-blowing.