The Tamil Nadu Premier League has been one of the popular domestic Twenty20 leagues in India. The tournament showcases all the up-and-coming talent from the cricket-rich Indian state of Tamil Nadu and nearby regions. Since it began in 2016, the TNPL has made headlines for producing exciting and thrilling cricket. Many Indian Premier League franchises look to the TNPL to scout talented players who hold the future of Indian cricket.

The 2022 edition of the TNPL kicked off on June 23 with the final being played on July 31. A total of 8 teams will participate in TNPL – Nellai Royal Kings, Seichem Madurai Panthers, Tiruppur Tamizhans, Ruby Trichy Warriors, Dindigul Dragons, Chepauk Super Gillies, Lyca Kovai Kings, and Salem Spartans. The 4 venues where the 28 league matches, playoffs and the final will be held are Tirunelveli, Dindigul, Salem, and Coimbatore.

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The Chepauk Super Gillies has been the most successful team in tournament history, having won the title three times – in 2017, 2019, and 2021. For this year’s tournament, here is a list of five players who can win the ‘Player Of The Tournament’ award:

1. M Shahrukh Khan

One of the few T20 specialists to come out of the Tamil Nadu Premier League is Masood Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh is a big-hitting middle-order batsman who has been instrumental in domestic limited-overs games for his TNPL franchise Lyca Kovai Kings.

The right-hander amassed 210 runs in 7 innings at an average of 52.50 and a season’s best strike rate of 177 in the 2021 edition. He is adept at playing the role of a finisher and one can expect the crowds to gather to watch him make his bat do the talking.

Although he got picked up at the IPL Players Auction for Rs 9 lakh by the Punjab Kings, he failed to set the tournament alight. However, Shahrukh would be eager to showcase his prowess once again at the TNPL.

2. R Sai Kishore

This talented left-arm spinner was the talk of TNPL having performed consistently for the Chepauk Super Gillies. His 19 wickets in the 2017 edition and 12 scalps in the 2019 season were instrumental in the Chepauk franchise’s title claims in those years.

The 25-year-old played 5 games for the IPL winners Gujarat Titans and took 6 wickets as well in the 2022 edition. His biggest strength is the low economy rate.

In three out of the last 4 editions of TNPL, Sai Kishore has given away just over 5.50 runs an over in the whole season. He bowls a tight line and length and because of his height, he’s not the easiest bowler for a batsman to use his feet against.

In 2022 TNPL, expect Sai Kishore to roll high on confidence after playing an active part in an IPL-winning campaign for the Titans.

3. T Natarajan

Where Umran Malik stole the limelight at Sunrisers with his pace in IPL 2022, T Natarajan held his own with 18 wickets in the season for the Hyderabad franchise. The left-arm medium-pacer is back to his den where he impressed IPL scouts way back in 2017.

The last time Natarajan played the TNPL, he took 10 wickets in 7 games for Lyca Kovai Kings in 2019 with an economy rate of 7 runs per over. Injuries may have forced him out of the Indian side but he’ll be back to the drawing board ready to take the TNPL by storm this time around.

4. Narayan Jagadeesan

One of the up-and-coming players in Tamil Nadu cricket, Narayan Jagadeesan made headlines last year when his 336 runs in 10 games proved vital for Chepauk Super Gillies to retain their TNPL title in 2021. That performance plus consistent showing in limited-overs cricket for Tamil Nadu ensured he got picked for the Chennai Super Kings in the 2022 IPL.

The Super Gillies’ top scorer previous season scored an unbeaten 39 off 33 balls against eventual champions Gujarat Titans to show for his efforts in the IPL. TNPL is a stage where this talented opening batsman and wicket-keeper comes into his own and would be a player to watch out for this season.

5. Murali Vijay

The former India Test opener returns to competitive cricket after a gap of almost two years. The stylish right-hander will represent the Ruby Trichy Warriors in 2022 TNPL. Vijay was last seen in an IPL game in Dubai in 2020, playing for the Chennai Super Kings against Delhi Capitals.

Once among the most consistent batsmen for the Chennai franchise, Vijay’s career nosedived after being unable to string together consistent scores for his IPL teams.

His last first-class game for Tamil Nadu was back in 2019 and his last Test appearance in India whites was the 2018 Perth Test. However, this time around, the 38-year-old veteran cricketer is looking forward to a player-mentor role for his TNPL side. The Ruby Trichy team, who went all the way into the final in the previous season, stands to gain a lot with Vijay in their ranks.

He wants to enjoy whatever cricket that’s left in him. Don’t be surprised if he does turn the clock back with some scintillating stroke-play we were so used to seeing him come up with a decade ago.

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