Even the best of the batters find Varun Chakravarthy’s unorthodox spin difficult to negotiate. No wonder then that Nagaland— the wooden spooners from Group E— batters were exposed against Varun at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday.

Varun (5/9) bamboozled the inexperienced Nagaland batters to register his personal best in List A cricket. More importantly, he ensured that Tamil Nadu completed the formalities of sealing a place in the knockouts, starting in Rajkot from December 9.

Riding on Varun’s five-wicket haul— and R. Sai Kishore’s support act, Tamil Nadu bundled out a hapless Nagaland for a paltry 69 in less than 20 overs. Sai Kishore and N. Jagadeesan then chased it down in the eighth over, with Sai Kishore finishing the game off with successive sixes – over long-on and mid-wicket – off Khrievitso Kense.

Nagaland who had been annihilated by Punjab at the same venue on Sunday conceded only two wickets to the pace duo of T. Natarajan and Sandeep Warrier who came in for M. Siddharth. When Varun was introduced in the 10th over, the first ball he bowled crashed into the middle stump through Oren Ngullie’s gate between the bat and the pad.

Then on, the wickets started tumbling rapidly as Varun and Sai Kishore took charge. In the 17th over, Varun bowled Tahmeed Rahman and Khrievitso off the last two balls to leave Nagaland reeling at 59 for eight and give himself a chance to pick a hat-trick.

Akavi Yeptho survived the first balls of Varun’s next over before edging one to B. Indrajith at slips to hand Varun his second five-wicket haul in List A cricket.

The next over saw Sai Kishore ending the innings with his third scalp before quickly putting on his batting gear and getting a much-needed hit in the middle. He and Jagadeesan had no trouble dominating a toothless bowling attack.

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