Rookie medium pacer P Saravana Kumar starred with a fifer as defending champions Tamil Nadu outplayed Hyderabad by eight wickets to sail into the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 cricket tournament here on Saturday.
The TN bowlers backed skipper Vijay Shankar’s decision to field first as they bundled out the hitherto unbeaten Hyderabad for 90 in 18.3 overs with only Tanay Thyagarajan (25 off 24 balls) reached double figures. Saravana did most of the damage upfront as he accounted for the top order, including rival captain Tanmay Agarwal (1) and the in-form Tilak Varma (8). He finished with the sensational figure of 5 for 21, the second best ever bowling figures for TN behind Rahil Shah’s 5 for 12.
Hyderabad was tottering at 30 for 5 in 6.2 overs and it soon became 39 for 6 when Ravi Teja was dismissed by M Mohammed for 9. Late resistance by Thyagarajan and Chama Milind (8) helped Hyderabad escape complete humiliation before they folded for 90 in the 19th over. Thyagarajan hit a huge six off Saravana and followed it up with a boundary before another attempted big shot brought about his downfall.
Apart from Saravana, leg-spinner M Ashwin (2/13 from 4 overs) and M Mohammed (2/12 from three overs) helped keep the Hyderabad batters in check. R Sai Kishore (1/19) took the other wicket. While chasing, Tamil Nadu lost the in-form N Jagadeesan (1) in the third over and fellow opener C Hari Nishaanth (14) in the same over to Rakshann Readdi (2/23).
But the impressive youngster B Sai Sudharsan (34 not out) and captain Shankar (43) saw the team home in the 15th over with a 76-run partnership for the third wicket. Sudharsan batted fluently and struck a few stylish shots while Shankar, who started cautiously, began hitting the ball powerfully after getting his eye in. He finished the game by smashing a four and six off Rakshann Readdi.
Tamil Nadu awaits the winner of the Karnataka vs Vidharba semi-final clash in Monday’s final. Brief scores: Hyderabad 90 all out in 18.3 overs (Tanay Thyagarajan 25, P Saravana Kumar 5/21) lost to Tamil Nadu 92 for 2 in 14.2 overs (Vijay Shankar 43 not out, Sai Sudharsan 34 not out) by eight wickets.