Masterful Raina puts Super Kings in control
Suresh Raina produced another memorable Twenty20 innings to help the Chennai Super King stake control of their Twenty20 Champions League semi final against the Royal Challenger Bangalore.
Raina smashed 94 runs from just 48 deliveries, which included 5 fours and 6 sixes to help the Super Kings reach 174-4 from just 17 overs after heavy rain forced a two hour delay in the IPL Champions innings.
It proved to be a nightmare for the Royal Challengers who lost Dale Steyn in just the 4th over of the innings after the South African fast bowler was taken to hospital after banging his head on the ground while attempting to take a catch.
Play got underway on time but there was only 2.5 overs bowled before heavy rain forced the players off the pitch. The rain continued for the best part of two hours before the semi final got back underway with both sides losing three overs from their innings.
Once play got back underway the Royal Challengers took advantage of the delay by dismissing Michael Hussey with just the sixth delivery after the resumption.
With less then 2 overs of the power play fielding restrictions remaining Hussey tried to dispatch Vinay Kumer over long off for a six but he was caught by Steyn who took a brilliantly catch out on the boundary.
While his teammates celebrated the fast bowler lay motionless on the floor after taking a blow to his head when he landed awkwardly on the out field. After receiving treatment on the pitch Steyn, visibly dazed, walked slowly back to the dugout.
Despite the early loss the Super Kings remained positive with big hitting Suresh Raina joining Murali Vijay at the crease and the 23 year old wasted little time getting into the action smashing 4 sixes from 15 deliveries to help build a second wicket partnership of 81.
With Steyn ruled out; Raina and Vijay took advantage of the weakened attack dispatching Virat Kohli for 16 runs and Dillion du Preez for 15 runs as their partnership reached 50 from just 23 deliveries.
After a number of missed opportunities the Royal Challengers finally brought the Super Kings partnership to an end thanks to Vinay Kumar who forced Vijay (41) into rushing his shot with a short a delivery which ballooned up into the sky to give Kohli an easy catch in the covers.
Raina responded to the loss by dispatching Kumar’s next delivery for a massive six which sailed deep into the crowd at midwicket. The six, Raina’s 5th of the innings brought up a well deserved half century, coming from just 29 deliveries.
With the pressure mounting Cameron White came into the attack in the absents of Steyn and the part time leg spinner conceded 13 runs from the 13th over which last 10 deliveries which included two no balls and two wides.
MS Dhoni (11) quickly followed before Raina added to Kumble’s troubles by smashing the Royal Challengers skipper for 19 runs in the 15th over which included two fours and a six to leave Kumble visibly fuming.
With emotions running high in the field the Royal Challengers hopes of reaching the Twenty20 Champions League took a further blow when Raina teed off during the final over smashing 3 more boundaries to end the innings 94 not out.
In between the carnage Albie Morkel (5) was caught by Kohli out near the deep midwicket boundary but the damage had already been done with Raina producing another masterful performance to leave the Royal Challengers a mountain to climb.