TNPL 2016 | Six players to watch out for in the Tamil Nadu Premier League

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TNPL 2016 | Six players to watch out for in the Tamil Nadu Premier League

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Arun S Kaimal

08/27/2016

The T20 season is back! No, it is not the IPL nor the mini version of it. It is the Tamil Nadu Premier League, a twenty20 tournament in Chennai. Just like the IPL, TNPL also has 8 franchises and with the southern part of India brimming with T20 fever, let’s look at some star players.

The eight-team league kicked off on August 24 and will run for a short span of 23 days across three venues in Tamil Nadu. It is the third state-level T20 competition in the country after Karnataka Premier League and Maharashtra Premier League. A brainchild of former BCCI chief N Srinivasan, TNPL has followed the design of the Indian Premier League and that too in grand style to attract eyeballs.

Former Chennai Super Kings star and Indian limited-overs team captain MS Dhoni unveiled the trophy, while Australian legend Matthew Hayden is the brand ambassador of the tournament. Former Australian pace spearhead Brett Lee will also be seen in the league as a mentor for Ruby Kanchi Warriors.

Fancy team names, theme songs, and celebrities are also here along with international coaches. Former South African all-rounder Lance Kluesner is the coach of Kovai Kings, while Michael Bevan is the coach of Madurai Super Giants. On the pitch, there will be Indian cricketers like Murali Vijay and Ravichandran Ashwin in addition to other Tamil Nadu cricketers. The league is also being broadcasted by Star India and is expected to attract a lot of eyeballs in the coming days.

The league has already had a century and a super over and with the T20 fever in full force in Tamil Nadu, let’s look at seven players to watch out for in the Tamil Nadu Premier League.

1. Ravichandran Ashwin - Dindigul Dragons

After winning the Man of the Series award in the Test series against West Indies, Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be looking to continue his good form in the TNPL. Ashwin will lead Dindigul Dragons once he returns from national duty, and will certainly be one of the star attractions of the league. Ashwin’s emergence as an all-rounder will certainly help his team in the T20 format. Although he had an underwhelming IPL season in 2016, where he picked 10 wickets in 14 matches with an economy rate of 7.25 for Rising Pune Supergiants, the TNPL is likely to see a different Ashwin after his heroics in the Caribbean.

2. Murali Vijay – Lyca Kovai Kings

Another current Indian player in the league is Test opener, Murali Vijay. Unlike Ashwin, Vijay had a below-par Test series in the Windies and made just seven runs in total from the series after getting a chance to bat only once. A thumb injury stopped him from playing in the second Test, while rain played spoilsport in the fourth and final one.

With Vijay being considered as a Test specialist, the 32-year-old will be looking to catch the eye of the selectors in the shortest format of the game with some big performances in the TNPL. The Indian opener is also the captain of Lyca Kovai Kings, and in his first match against Ruby Kanchi Warriors, he scored 24 runs but ended up on the losing side after the match went into super over. Vijay is part of the India Green squad for the Duleep Trophy and will miss a few matches in the TNPL, if he is picked in the starting XI in the Duleep Trophy.

3. Abhinav Mukund – Tuti Patriots

The last few days have been a dream for Abhinav Mukund. He scored 77 and 169 in the Duleep Trophy match against India Green for India Red and won the Man of the Match award for guiding his team to victory. After his heroics against the pink ball, Mukund will be looking to take his run forward, this time, against the white ball.

Although Mukund, who is part of the Tuti Patriots franchise in the TNPL, will be busy with the Duleep Trophy till September 1, he could play for the Patriots after the league matches in the pink-ball tournament.

4. Baba Aparajith - VB Thiruvallur Veerans

The Tamil Nadu cricketer has already lit up the TNPL by smashing the first hundred of the inaugural edition of the tournament against Karaikudi Kaalai. The 22-year-old, who was part of the Chennai Super Kings side in the previous editions of the IPL, scored an unbeaten 118 off just 63 balls to take his team to a five-wicket victory.

Aparajith, who is also the skipper of VB Thiruvallur Veerans, will be looking to use the TNPL as a platform to get back in the selector’s notes after going through a couple of underwhelming seasons in domestic cricket. Like Vijay and Mukund, Baba Aparajith is also part of the Duleep Trophy squads and will miss a few games in the TNPL if he is picked in the starting XI.

5. Murugan Ashwin - Dindigul Dragons

After playing his inaugural IPL season with his namesake Ravichandran Ashwin, Murugan Ashwin will be back alongside the Indian off-spinner, this time, in the TNPL. Ravichandran Ashwin will be captaining Dindigul Dragons, and Murugan Ashwin will be looking to continue his impressive rise in Indian cricket with some eye-catching performances in TNPL.

Murugan Ashwin had bagged a Rs. 4.5 crore check in the IPL and produced some notable performances in the cash-rich league by taking seven wickets from 10 matches with an economy rate of 8.45. His performances in the IPL did not go unnoticed, and it helped him seal a berth in the India Red squad for the Duleep Trophy.

6. Dinesh Karthik – Tuti Patriots

The Tamil Nadu cricketer was a backup option to MS Dhoni for years, but when the opportunity arrived, he failed to cash in. After Dhoni’s retirement, Wriddhiman Saha claimed the wicket-keeper’s spot in the Indian team to add another blow to Karthik’s chances. In 2016 IPL, he had an average season for the new team, Gujarat Lions, and scored 335 runs in 16 matches at an average of 25.76.

Dinesh Karthik will have another chance to catch the eye of the selectors in the TNPL when he will play for the Tuti Patriots. The 31-year-old did no harm to his chances in the opening game and scored an unbeaten 67 off 49 balls to help his team defeat Chepauk Super Gillies by 45 runs. Karthik, who is the captain of Tuti Patriots, could miss a few matches in the league with him being part of the India Blue squad in the Duleep Trophy.  

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