Tirunelveli, Sep 16: The first semi-final of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) Twenty20 tournament will have Dindigul Dragons facing Albert Tuti Patriots at the India Cements Limited Ground at Sankarnagar, Tirunelveli, today (September 16) at 6.30 PM IST.
It may be noted that the last time these two teams met, in the league stage, on this very ground, the match ended in a tie. Dragons later won in the super-over thanks to T Natarajan's superb yorkers.
In fact, they were the first team to qualify for the semi-finals, notching up four consecutive wins. Bowling is their strength as Dragons have restricted opponents to modest totals and have also delivered when it mattered most.
Natarajan will spearhead the pace-attack as his bowling during the death overs has been exceptional. The team is spin-rich and consists of MS Sanjay, M Ashwin and Yazh Arun Mozhi.
Even Guru Kedarnath has been a good find, and the same applies for M Silambarasan, who made his debut in the game against Lyca Kovai Kings.
Also, Sunny Kumar Singh has given Dragons wickets, when they needed it the most.
And if R Ashwin becomes available, then this bowling attack can defend any total on a spin-friendly ground like Tirunelveli.
The batting is dependent on N Jagadeesan and Ganga Sridhar Raju, with the likes of Subramaniya Siva, Wilkins Victor and M Ashwin chipping in the middle-order.
Batting second hasn't been Dragons' forte in this tournament thanks to the lack of finishers in the team.
But if they get the middle-order sorted, it will be tough for teams to go past them.
On the other hand, Patriots will be a confident bunch, as they notched up three consecutive wins to reach the semifinals.
They also have a good bowling attack led by the experienced L Balaji. Even Aswin Crist has been excellent, but then it was spin which made all the difference.
The likes of Ganesh Moorthi, Aushik Srinivas and Washington
Sundar have made life difficult for opposition batsmen.
Batting has been a problem for Patriots, especially after losing the services of Dinesh Karthik, after the first game against Chepauk Super Gillies.
Karthik, who recently won the Duleep Trophy, will most likely join Patriots ahead of the semifinal. His inclusion will give the team a lot more belief and also makes their batting look balanced.
Even Kaushik Gandhi, who is in good form, will aim to start well, and lay down a good foundation for others like SP Nathan and Anand Subramanium.
Dragons' road to semifinal
Beat Madurai by 14 runs (VJD method), beat Kanchi by 48 runs,
beat Thiruvallur by 29 runs,
beat Tuti in super over, lost to Chepauk by six runs, beat Karaikudi by seven wickets, lost to Kovai by 16 runs.
Patriots' road to semi-final
Beat Chepauk by 45 runs, lost to Kovai by nine wickets, lost to Karaikudi by eight runs, lost to Dindigul in super-over, beat Thiruvallur by six wickets, beat Kanchi by nine wickets, beat Madurai by 33 runs.
Key battles: Dragons' batting versus Patriots' bowling
Both teams are heavily dependent on their bowling to produce the desired results. Both have in-form spinners, death-over specialists, and at least one left-arm spinner. It will definitely be a clash of titans!
Match preview from TNPL's website