Dinesh Karthik
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On Sunday, when they defeated Baroda by 7 wickets in a one-sided final, Tamil Nadu secured a second Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy title. Tamil Nadu chased the goal with two overs to spare after limiting Baroda to 120/9 in 20 overs.

Under the captaincy of Dinesh Karthik, the state won both of its SMAT titles, and the Tamil Nadu captain was upbeat after the side put behind the heartbreak of the past season to lift the title.

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In the final of the 2019-20 edition of the tournament, the party lost to Karnataka.

Last year, it really hurt us and we lost a whisker. We had our sights on knockouts this year and then we became consistent. It’s the sign of a good team,’ said Karthik after the victory.

Karthik also highlighted the progression of players from the Tamil Nadu side to the Indian team, citing T Natarajan and Washington Sundar as examples.

I think the fact that in the Indian team there are players like Natarajan and Sundar, who were in this team last year, is just a sign of a team doing well. “I’m sure there are a few who are going to continue with this team, too,” said the TN captain.

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While Natarajan made his debut on the recently concluded tour of Australia in all three formats, Sundar remains a key part of India’s T20I setup. He also made his Test debut in Brisbane in the final match of the Australia series.

Earlier, the spinners of Tamil Nadu made the Baroda batsmen easy work as the side was reduced to 36/6 in 8.5 overs, with Manimaran Siddarth, who played his first game of the tournament, taking three wickets in his first spell.

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Vishnu Solanki (49) and Atit Sheth (29), however, steered Baroda past trouble, while Bhargav Bhatt (12* off 5 deliveries) played a handy cameo to take Baroda’s score past the 100-run mark.

TN began cautiously in the chase, but a small target allowed their batsmen to bide time on the crease, ultimately chasing the score in 18 overs.