Suresh Raina on Tuesday basked in his match-winning 73 not out after the Chennai Super Kings beat the Bangalore Royal Challengers in their Indian Premier League Qualifier clash at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
The left-handed Raina struck four boundaries and half a dozen sixes across his 50-ball vigil, which afforded the defending champions the opportunity to defend their title in Saturday’s final against one of Bangalore, Mumbai or Kolkata.
Set a stiff target after 70 from Virat Kohli and complementary knocks of 34 and 29 from Mayank Agarwal and Luke Pomersbach respectively had powered the Royal Challengers to 175 for four, Chennai enjoyed key knocks from Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Mahendra Dhoni and Albie Morkel en route to a six-wicket triumph with two balls to spare.
“This one is my best [knock] because I was able to finish off the match. When you win a crucial match like a qualifier for the team, it gives you a lot more satisfaction, Raina, who landed the Man of the Match award for his effort.
“I wanted to chase this total down. The situation was tough but I just wanted to bat until the end. I had to take the initiative and go for my shots. I was determined to finish it.”
With Chennai openers Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay removed cheaply, Raina stepped up as the senior scorer across a 63-run stand with Badrinath and a 61-run partnership with Dhoni and was later content to take a back seat to South African recruit Morkel’s big-hitting prowess through the closing throes of the match.
The powerful left-hander blazed three sixes and a four in his unbeaten 28 from 10 balls, ultimately sealing the result by striking Daniel Vettori for a six off the third-last ball of the showdown.
“Badrinath played a remarkable innings and that partnership helped the team recover from the early blows. Dhoni came in and played some attacking shots and in the end Albie finished the game,” added Raina.
“I told Albie that the wicket is very good to bat on and to try to play straight by giving the right treatment to the loose balls and he did just that.”
While impressed by Kohli’s knock, defeated skipper Vettori was left to rue a lack of impact from Chris Gayle.
The former West Indian captain – the 2011 IPL’s highest run-scorer by a long shot – managed just eight runs before falling to Chennai spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Tuesday.
“Virat gave us a chance of winning. Along with Chris, he’s also the reason we’ve come so far,” said the New Zealander.
“We got 175, which is a very good score, even though Gayle didn’t get runs. So, I won’t say that we lost because Chris failed.” Cricket365