If the goal of creating Tamil Nadu Premier League in Auckland, imitating the much-touted Indian Premier League, was to recreate the energy, passion, and showbiz in the local community level cricket, then it was clearly visible to some extent in the final match on Sunday, April 4, which saw Team Chennai winning over Team Trichy in style.

The three-day cricketing tournament held over the Easter long weekend (April 2, 3, 4) witnessed a classy final played between the two teams where Team Trichy posed a competitive total of 197 in 20 hours, but the team Chennai romped home only in 17th over with few wickets intact.

Organised under the aegis of Kumeu Cricket Club, TN Premier League 2021 was the first of its kind cricket tournament for the Tamil community in Auckland, which literally followed every step of the famous Indian Premier League right from team formation, players bidding & auction, sponsorship and matches.

Speaking to the Indian Weekender, Maheshwaran Shanmugam, the organiser who single handily conceptualised and organised the League, expressed satisfaction with the interest received in the concept of the tournament and the support received from sponsors and the members of the community.

“I had been sitting on this idea of organising an IPL style tournament for members of Tamil community in Auckland for quite some time, but the real work began about two months ago when I began discussing the idea with some of my friends,” Maheshwaran said.

“Given that it was a short notice for the inaugural tournament, we finalised to have four teams and named them on four major cities of Tamil Nadu – Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Coimbatore,” Maheshwaran said.

“Once the name of teams was finalised, I advertised them on WhatsApp and Facebook and soon got sponsors on board buying each team for $750, who were allowed to choose captains of their respective teams.”

“Subsequently, players who have registered (and paid $25) to participate in the tournament were made available for auction, which began with a base price of each player at $20 and could go up to $120,” Maheswaran said.

Speaking more about the experience of setting up IPL style tournament, especially among players and sponsors, Maheshwaran said, “It was thoroughly an exhilarating experience for everyone, including players, sponsors and supporters.”

“While the overall goal of this sporting event for the Tamil community youths was to harness positivity and unity via sports, the IPL style league generated more passion and enthusiasm amongst one and all.”

“I have already received interest from the Tamil community in Wellington and Dunedin to plan something similar,” Maheshwaran said excitedly.

Building upon enthusiasm within the Tamil community in Auckland, the organisers had reined in Kiwi-Indian youth sensation Adithya Ashok – the budding cricketer who has represented the New Zealand U19 team in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup held in South Africa in January 2020, as one of the main guests at the finals.

Highlights of the three-day tournament

A total of nine matches (20 overs) were played over the span of three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), with six matches in round-robin deciding the position of each team in the table, and followed by one qualifier, one eliminator and one final match.

Finals was a high scoring encounter, with Trichy batted first, scoring 197 in 20 overs with their skipper Hari scoring 82 of 33 balls and supported by Sagar with 50 and two wickets.

However, Mohan from Chennai scored a match-winning knock of 83 from 32 balls and leading Chennai to finish the match in the 17th over.

Pradeep Chakravarthy (Madurai Captain) was adjudged “Player of the tournament” with 150 plus runs and five wickets in the tournament, winning a $100 voucher and a medal.

Mohan Rathnakumar (Chennai) was “Batsman of the tournament”, scoring 202 runs, while Adarsh Ramasubramanian was adjudged “Bowler of the tournament”, picking up 12 wickets, including six wickets haul in one single match. Both players received $50 vouchers.

The winning Chennai team took the $750 prize while the runners up Trichhy team took home the $500 prize.

In all, it was an exhilarating tournament with some generous support from sponsors, including Alayam Thiru Murugan temple (Mangere), sponsoring around 100 lunch packs for teams and guests attending the finals on Sunday, April 4.