Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Tamil Nadu prevails in a dramatic finish

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The team defends 125 against Gujarat; Chirag Gandhi’s heroic knock goes in vain

Cricket showcases emotions of various hues. In this theatre of many protagonists, agony and ecstasy waltz side by side. Much like the dance of life.

The scene of contrasts at the conclusion of a low-scoring but captivating duel of fortune-swings between Tamil Nadu and Gujarat here on Monday saw both the home batsmen spreadeagled on the ground in despair while the Tamil Nadu cricketers celebrated with roars of delight after a last-gasp one-run victory.

Tragic error

The humdinger in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 competition that saw the host pursuing Tamil Nadu’s 125 for six had ended in a tragic error by Gujarat No. 11 Hardik Patel.

With three runs needed off the last ball, the heroic Chirag Gandhi missed a heave off seamer Abhishek Tanwar but the umpire had signalled a wide.

Gujarat would not only have secured an additional run but needed just one more to tie off the extra delivery.

However, Hardik, not noticing the umpire’s signal, set off for a run. Wicketkeeper N. Jagadeesan relayed the ball swiftly to bowler Tanwar who broke the stumps. It was all over. The thriller had exploded at the finish. Gujarat required 16 runs off the final over.

Tamil Nadu skipper R. Ashwin had a choice to make. Washington Sundar with his off-spin had been economical while striking twice. And he had an over left.

Ashwin opted for paceman Tanwar who too had been tight till that point but lacked Washington’s experience in these situations.

Gandhi (68 n.o., 66b, 4×4, 4×6) promptly dismissed Tanwar for sixes over cover and the straight-field. The goodly, vocal crowd was on its feet. Then came the final twist.

Tamil Nadu, which now has two wins from three games, defended a low score with a tigerish resolve.

The fielding was outstanding, the throws were on the mark and the side effected four run outs, the pick being a direct hit by substitute J. Kousik from square of the wicket to dismiss Axar Patel.

The skiers in the deep were held capably too and it was a big moment when C. Hari Nishanth held the influential Priyank Panchal at long-on off left-arm spinner Sai Kishore. Sai, on a surface where the ball gripped and turned, bowled well.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu recovered from early blows struck by the lively and straight Arzan Nagwaswalla; he trapped M. Vijay leg-before and cleaned up Hari Nishaanth after Gujarat opted to field.

And leg-spinner Piyush Chawla delighted with his teasing flight and two-way spin. The organised and compact N.S. Chaturved (34), the smooth-stroking Washington (33) and the brisk Jagadeesan (29 n.o.) ensured that the bowlers had something to defend.

And defend they did with verve.

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