TNPL trophy launch unveiled by MS Dhoni Photo Courtesy: TNPL Media
TNPL trophy launch unveiled by MS Dhoni Photo Courtesy: TNPL Media

TNPL 2016 is already underway and fans, especially in the south are brimming with excitement about the eight franchises, who have begun their journey in the T20 league. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA)President, N Srinivasan is the mastermind for emulating a league similar to that Karnataka Premier League (KPL) that has become premier tournament in the south. This league will help to unearth talented youngsters, who may one day go on to represent the national side. The South states have been deprived from T20 cricket after the ban of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Thanks to TNPL, the state can rejoice to find T20 league for the next three weeks. ALSO READ: BCCI allows players participating in Duleep Trophy to play in TNPL

There are 28 TNPL league matches, two semi-finals and the final to be held on September 18. All the matches will be held at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, Indian Cement Company Ground in Tirunelveli and NPR College Ground in Dindigul. TNPL consists of 8 franchises that includes Tuti Patriots, Dindigul Dragons, Lyca Kovai, Madurai Super Giants, Rubi Kanchi Warriors, VB Thiruvallur Veerans, Karaikudi Kaalai and Chepauk Super Gillies .

India’s limited-over captain MS Dhoni launched TNPL formally last week while former Australia and CSK batsman Mathew Hayden is the brand ambassador. The TNPL teams have players like Murali Vijay, Ravichandran Ashwin, Murugan Ashwin, Rajagopal Sathish, Arun Karthick, Badrinath, Abhinav Mukund,  Lakshmipathy Balaji and many more. These players have played for the national side as well as IPL matches earlier and have the T20 experience. Let us have a closer look at who are these players, their cricketing career and where they hail from:

Dinesh Karthik (Tuti Patriots): Not many remember Karthik’s stumping in 2004 in blue attire, which was his first dismissal. His international career never took off but he showed his presence in domestic cricket representing Tamil Nadu. He achieved his 1,000 First-Class runs in 2008-09. He has always been in the fringes but any hopes of a India comeback were shattered as after MS Dhoni’s retirement, Wriddhiman Saha got preference over him in Tests. He did make a comeback for all the formats in 2008 for New Zealand tour, but his lackluster performances did not help cement his place in the national side.

IPL has sparked his career. He was bought by Delhi Daredevils (DD) for INR 12.5 crores in 2014 auction and the next year he was bought by RCB in 2015. In 2016 edition he was part of new franchise GL for INR 2.6 crores and amassed 335 runs out of 16 matches played. For TNPL, he is leading Tuti Patriots and became the first batsman to score half-century in the inaugural match.

Murali Vijay (Lyca Kovai Kings): When Vijay started off the First-Class career, he had the knack to convert starts to big scores. One of the remarkable opening stand he shares is with Abhinav Mukund (playing TNPL as well) of 462 runs. That earned him Test call in 2008 to replace Gautam Gambhir, who was banned for a match due to an on-field dispute. IPL changed his fortunes arounde and kept scoring huge runs in crucial matches. When Vijay played in full Test series against Australia in 2012, it turned to be a jackpot as he scored back-to-back 150s. This in turn provided him ODI call in 2013. ALSO READ: Murali Vijay, Ravichandran Ashwin and others picked in TNPL 2016 draft

Soon he became the first choice opener for India. As for IPL is concerned, his best year was in 2010 where he scored 127 against RR garnered total runs of 458 that season. For TNPL he is heading the team Lyca Kovai Kings. After the recently concluded West Indies tour, Vijay will soon join the league and will be available to play in their next match.

Ravichandran Ashwin (Dindigul Dragons): The No. 2 Test bowler, bagging his sixth Man of the Series award in the recently concluded West Indies tour, scoring two centuries, a seven-wicket haul and five-wicket haul, Ashwin has done it all. When he made his debut in 2010, he soon earned the name as leading spinner for the national side. He has successfully carried the burden of India’s spin department on his shoulders. In the Test series against West Indies, he picked 22 wickets. As for IPL, he has always played under the mentor of Dhoni, for CSK as well as RPS.

Ashwin was a complete revelation in third edition of IPL. He was at the top with 20 wickets in 2011 with best figures of 3 for 16. As for TNPL, he will be captaining Dindigul Dragons and will be joining the team after the completion of India’s T20I series against West Indies in USA.

Murugan Ashwin (Dindigul Dragons): Remember the second Ashwin from the IPL season? He has awkward-looking bowling action and made his debut in First-Class cricket in 2012 for Tamil Nadu. As for List A, he made his debut against Mumbai in 2015. He has been impressive since he broke into the scene. However, T20 cricket has been his forte. He made his debut for Syed Musthtaq Ali Trophy in 2015-16 as he snared 10 wickets. ALSO READ: IPL 2016: Murugan cherishes playing with Ravichandran Ashwin

He often bowled in the nets for CSK but was then bought by RPS for INR 4.5 crores in IPL 2016, playing under the leadership of Dhoni. Did you know R Ashwin and M Ashwin studied in the same school, played for same domestic team, were in the same RPS team and now playing for the same team once again in TNPL?

Rajagopal Sathish (Chepauk Super Gillies): Sathish was part of Tamil Nadu team in domestic cricket and made his debut in 2001. But he flourished when he played for Assam averaging almost 50 in most of seasons. His double century against his home team, got him playing for Tamil Nadu again. As for IPL, Sathish has featured in numerous franchises be it MI, KXIP and the current one being KKR. He is currently the head of TNPL team Chepauk Super Gillies and lost the first match against Tuti Patriots.

Arun Karthik (Madurai Super Giants): When one remembers of Karthik, his last ball six against South Australia to take RCB to semi-final is unforgettable. On his debut in First-Class cricket for Karnataka, he scored 149 in 2008. He is the powerful batsman for Tamil Nadu then, scoring 344 runs in four games then. Karthik is currently settling into his role as a regular top-order batsman for Assam. ALSO READ: Arun Karthik’s century helps TNCA President XI post 396/9 against Hyderabad

As for IPL, he was part of CSK initially and slowly he became part of RCB in 2011. As for TNPL, he is leading Madurai Super Giants.

Lakshmipathy Balaji (Tuti Patriots): A seamer with bright smile, Balaji has the ability to move the ball either way. He took 13 wickets during the tri-series against Australia in 2003 and that earned him a lot of appreciation. He also played some big shots in the match against Pakistan in the same year.

Unfortunately, injury kept him away most of the time. But he made a comeback and was one of the better performers in ICC T20 World Cup 2012. Balaji also tasted success in IPL and has represented CSK, KKR and KXIP. He is part of Dinesh Karthik’s TNPL team Tuti Patriots.

Subramaniam Badrinath (Karaikudi Kalaai): It is not the first time Badrinath is captaining a team. He has been the captain for his First-Class team Tamil Nadu and prominent batsman in the 2000s. He has also been successful for India A in 2007, where he piled on runs against Zimbabwe and Kenya and in the home series against South Africa A. In October he was called up to the ODI squad for the last three one-dayers against Australia, but did not get a game. After being ignored for almost 10 months, he came back to replace Sachin Tendulkar against Sri Lanka in ODIs and did impress showing techniques against spinners. His IPL success also earned him spot in West Indies tour in 2011. He will be now leading TNPL franchise of Karaikudi Kalaai. ALSO READ: Dhoni praises Raina-Badrinath partnership in Chennai Super Kings-Sunriser Hyderabad CLT20 2013 match

Abhinav Mukund (Tuti Patriots): As witnessed in ongoing Duleep Trophy, Mukund can play the long innings as he showcased it on his way to scored 77 and 169 in both the innings. That innings awarded him Man of the Match. The Tamil Nadu opener has triple century to his name in Irani Trophy, Ranji Trophy. He also has a 400-run stand along with Vijay as well.

Scoring centuries is part of his skill. In the West Indies tour, he was selected as opener for India after Sehwag and Gambhir. His steady knocks earned him spot in the England tour as well. Mukund is yet to show talents in IPL yet. He will also be part of TNPL’s franchise Tuti Patriots.

Baba Aparajith (VB Thiruvallur Veerans): He made his Ranji Trophy debut for Tamil Nadu before being introduced for larger platform in 2012 for India for Under-19 World Cup. He played a pivotal role in India Under-19s’ title triumph, scoring 171 runs and taking five wickets to add to Man-of-the-Match awards in the quarter-final against Pakistan U-19s and the semi-final against New Zealand U-19s. ALSO READ: Ranji Trophy 2013-14: Baba Aparajith’s century puts Tamil Nadu on top against Services on Day 1

He gained accolades for his role in the middle-order for CSK in IPL 2013 and was bought back by the franchise in 2014. He continued to play under the realms of Dhoni for RPS as well in IPL 2016. One will surely look forward to watch him play and captain the TNPL franchise VB Thiruvallur Veerans. Aparajith has certainly started off his TNPL career well, scoring the tournament’s first ever century and leading his side to a comfortable five-wicket win in his team’s opening game of the tournament.

(Shruti Hariharan is Content Writer with CricketCountry. You can follow her on Twitter at @Shruti_2890)