With only five more group games in the second season of Tamil Nadu Premier League remaining, VB Thiruvallur Veerans take on Lyca Kovai Kings in a much-anticipated must-win encounter on Friday.
The equation is pretty straightforward for the Baba Aparajith-led side as a win today will help them seal the Playoff spot and join Tuti Patriots, Chepauk Super Gillies and Karaikudi Kaalai. On the other hand, Kovai, who are sitting on the sixth spot of the points table, with four points from five games, need a victory to keep themselves alive in the intra-state Twenty20 tournament.
Dindigul Dragons, with five points from six games, are the other team still in race for the Playoff spot.
Aparajith key for Thiruvallur
Meanwhile, Thiruvallur head into the match on the back of ending their two-match losing streak with a three-wicket win over Madurai Super Giant. Chasing 145 in a 14-over contest, skipper Aparajith led from the front with a 35-ball 72 as Veerans gunned down the total in just 13.3 overs.
While Aparajith, the team's top-scorer with 217 runs will be the man to watch out for, R Silambarasan the tournament's leading wicket-taker will be the captain's go-to-man at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Slow left-arm bowler Rahil Shah, who has scalped 11 wickets at 14.18, will also come in handy on what has been traditionally a slow surface in Chennai.
Unlucky Kovai eye return to winning ways
On the other hand, last year's semi-finalists Kovai have won only one game, their tournament opener against Kaalai last month. Two of their five matches (both in Dindigul) were abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Kovai thus have not been able to build any kind of momentum so far and will be under tremendous pressure to deliver on the big day.
Notably, L Suryaprash's team were beaten in their last outing on August 3 by Tuti Patriots. Low on confidence, the team has to buckle up and deliver against in-form Veerans.
Krishnamoorthy Vignesh, who took TNPL 2016 by storm, is their trump card. However, the young pacer has only managed three wickets in as many games and was taken to the cleaners by Tuti batsman in his last match.
Captain Suryaprakash was dismissed cheaply by Tuti, but 27-year-old is still the man to lead the Kovai show with the bat. Good support from middle order batsmen Anirudh Sita Ram and Ravi Kumar Rohith will come a huge boost to their chances tonight.
When does the match start and how to watch it online
The 25th match of TNPL 2017, Thiruvallur vs Kovai will begin at 7:15 pm IST at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.
TV Channel: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports Tamil. Live streaming: Hotstar