Five was the magic number for Chepauk Super Gillies as they beat Albert TuTi Patriots by six wickets in the final of the second edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League in Chennai. Chasing 144 for victory, Super Gillies were stuttering and stumbling towards the finish line before captain R Satish and Vasanth Saravanan stitched an unbeaten 52-run partnership for the fifth wicket to take them home.
Before the start of the final, Super Gillies had lost four games in a row against TuTi Patriots, who were on a 13-game unbeaten run in the tournament. But history was rewritten at the MA Chidambaram Stadium where Chepauk finally beat TuTi in their fifth attempt.
TuTi Patriots punctured a hole in the Super Gillies run chase but were never able to blow out the tyre and that cost them in the end as they failed to defend the title they won by beating the same opponents.
After delivering a maiden in his first over to build the pressure that led to the opening wicket, Akash Sumra finished his brilliant spell (4-1-22-0), conceding just six off the 18th over, leaving the Super Gillies with 22 to chase off the final two overs.
That wasn't enough. The streak was finally broken. Washington Sundar, who finished as the tournament's leading run-getter (and conceded just 16 in his first three overs), went for 23 in his final over, as Super Gillies won with an over to spare.
After 10 overs, Chepauk were struggling at 52/1. However, opener KH Gopinath scored a crucial fifty before cameos from Satish and Vasanth Saravan saw the side home comfortably in the end.
Having lost all their games against the Albert TuTi Patriots, Super Gillies began, hoping that perfect execution of their plans might provide a change in result this time around.
Dropping TNPL 2017's leading run-getter off the second ball of the game, especially when he scored the tournament's fastest fifty in the first qualifier, wouldn't have been part of the plan. However, Antony Dhas error at the long on boundary that was followed by a six just over his head two balls later, didn't prove to be too costly as captain R Satish provided the crucial breakthrough in his second over.
An action-packed first over that saw a dropped catch result in a six and a boundary marked the major highlight at the start of the TuTi innings that was disrupted by rain. Although the rain relented and play resumed with no overs, the defending champions failed to garner any momentum.
Like the rain that came and went, TuTi's batsmen, for once in the tournament, looked a little flustered. Patriots' opening duo of Washington Sundar and Kaushik Gandhi, who were the pillars upon which their success has been built this season, both failed to get going.
Both were back in the pavilion inside the first seven overs. While that brought the Indian international duo of Abhinav Mukund and Dinesh Karthik to the crease, their 43-run partnership for the third wicket was far from free flowing.
The pitch that looked like a featherbed started to look a little more threatening after the rain. Super Gillies' left-arm spin trio of Sai Kishore, Aleandar R and Arun Kumar V, turned on the screw and didn't let the defending champions get away. Between them, they picked up five wickets for 86 runs in 12 overs.
The pressure the spinners managed to accumulate, showed as Arun Kumar dismissed both Mukund and Karthik in the space of nine balls. From then onwards, the TuTi middle-order, which hasn't had much to do in the tournament, never really got going.
At 115/5 in the 16th over, having lost both experienced batsmen, TuTi needed SP Nathan, to stick around. However, Sai Kishore, the tournament's leading wicket-taker ensured that he put the final nail in the TuTi coffin, as he picked up two wickets in two balls, in his final over.
The defending champions managed just 33 runs in the final five overs in which they lost five wickets, including two run-outs in the final over, as they inched their way towards 143/8.
It didn't look as though it was going to be enough and although they gave Chepauk a tough fight, that proved to be the case in the end.