Sunday, 5 October 2014

Super King Raina wins the CLT20 crown

BANGALORE: Suresh Raina took a toothless Kolkata Knight Riders' bowling attack by the scruff of the neck to script Chennai Super Kings' brilliant title triumph in the Champions League T20 final at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday.

Raina's pulverising innings of 109 not out off a mere 62 balls, with eight sixes and six fours, made light of a competitive target of 181 set by the Kolkata team.

The eight-wicket win, with nine balls to spare, also vindicated skipper MS Dhoni's strategy of playing to his team's strengths.

Dhoni opted to field first, secure in the knowledge that his envious batting line-up could successfully chase down any target set by KKR. And the manner in which the brazenly aggressive Raina and Brendon McCullum (39; 30b, 4x4, 1x6) put together 118 rollicking runs off just 74 balls for the second wicket proved that the CSK batting line-up was in a league of its own.

The fact that KKR were without Sunil Narine, their trump card, helped and as did the pitch and short boundaries at a Chinnaswamy Stadium packed to capacity with CSK's supporters.

KKR, asked to take first strike must have rued their inability to take advantage of the 91-run start provided by openers Robin Uthappa (39; 32b, 1x6, 4x4) and skipper Gautam Gambhir (80; 52b, 3x6, 7x4).

On a good pitch they would have been looking forward to a total in excess of 200 but that was not to be as man of the match Pawan Negi (4-022-5) came up with a brilliant display of slow left-arm spin bowling.

Negi's strategy of taking the pace off the ball worked brilliantly for him. The left-arm spinner, unlike the two other spinners, Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin, chose to bowl slower and in the process extracted appreciable purchase from the pitch.

Many of his deliveries gripped the surface and spun across the bat to the consternation of the batsmen. The ploy of bowling slower forced the KKR batters to reach out to the ball in their quest to accelerate and they invariably paid the price.

The 19th over, Negi's last, was particularly rewarding. He snared Pandey with the first delivery and followed it up by getting rid of Ryan Ten Doeschate and Suryakumar Yadav, both without opening their account.

Just two runs (one off a wide) came off that penultimate over. Yusuf Pathan (20 not out; 9 balls, 1x6, 2x4) recovered lost ground somewhat by clobbering Nehra for 19 runs in the final over to ensure that KKR bowlers had a decent target to defend.

But Raina's pyrotechnics complemented Negi's 5-wicket effort and won another title for CSK.

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