India secure Super Eights place after Raina ton
Suresh Rania smashed a brilliant century from just 59 balls to help India become the first team to secure a place in the Super Eights group stage thanks to a 14 run victory over South Africa at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia.
Rania made the South Africans suffer by scoring a wonderful century after he was caught off a no ball in the 4th over to leave the Proteas with a run chase of 187.
The young Indian became just the third player to score a Twenty20 international century reaching the landmark from just 59 balls, his innings included 9 fours and 5 sixes.
South Africa’s run chase almost got off to an explosive start after Yusuf Pathan nearly pulled off a stunning diving catch to dismiss Jacque Kallis but the fielder couldn’t get his finger tips around the balls.
Chasing such a big total mean the Proteas had to attack from the first ball but Kallis and Loots Bosman struggled against the spin of Harbhajan Singh who opened the bowling for India.
After suffering a slow start the South Africa lost Bosman (8) in the 4th over after he was caught by Piyush Chawla after he chased a wide delivery by Yusuf Pathan.
With the pressure building Bosman tried to smash Pathan through the covers but he was only able to Chawla who took the easy chance to leave South Africa 21-1.
Kallis was joined at the crease by skipper Graeme Smith but the big hitting pair struggled to score as India took all of the pace off the ball which made scoring boundaries on a painfully slow out field all impossible.
Although the South African’s progress mirrored that of the Indian innings Raina’s acceleration at the end of the innings meant the Proteas were behind the required run rate.
Smith started to break the shackles with a couple of big sixes but Kallis in comparison was finding the conditions tricky as he reached his half century from a pedestrian 45 balls.
Slowly the Proteas started to gain so momentum thanks to Kallis who finally broke out of his slump by smashing Harbhajan Singh for consecutive sixes in the 14th over.
India bounced back though to halt the Proteas progress by running out Smith (36) in the very next over to leave South Africa 128-2. Kallis (73) followed his skipper back to the dugout 6 balls later after he was dismissed by Chawla.
With the lose of Smith and Kallis the Proteas now needed another 59 runs from just 21 delivers and it left Albie Morkel and AB de Villiers needing a miracle to claim the victory.
Although de Villiers smashed two big sixes to thrill the crowd India held on to record a comprehensive victory as they cruised into the Super Eights. Defeat for the Proteas means they‘ll go into Wednesday games against Afghanistan needing a victory to progress.
Having been put into bat India got off to a shaky start, from the very first ball of the game Dinesh Karthik could have been ran out after Murali Vijay turned down a quick single which left Karthik almost in the same crease at Vijay.
Although the ball was well fielded by AB de Villiers he threw the ball to the wrong end giving Karthik enough time to get back into his crease.
Despite the major let off South Africa struck back with the very next ball to dismiss Vijay (0) who caught by MS Dhoni to give Rory Kleinveldt the big break through.
Karthik and Raina responded to the loss of Vijay by slowly building a partnership of 28, the pair were clearly struggerling on the slow wicket riding their luck at times as Raina was brilliantly caught by Kleinveldt but Albie Morkel had over stepped the mark and a no ball was called.
Although the no ball would be costly the Proteas did strike back to dismiss Karthik in the next over after he was caught by Graeme Smith to leave India 32-2 after 5.3.
With Karthik back in the dugout Yuvraj Singh joined the reprieved Raina at the crease and the pair responded to the loss of the early wickets by building the foundations of an important contribution.
While the normally explosive Yuvraj played the perfect supporting roles scoring a run a ball Raina attacked the South African bowlers dispatching them around the ground.
Raina continued his excellent form from the last months Indian Premier League to reach his half century in the 14th over before Yuvraj (37) was dismissed by Kleinveldt to leave India 120-3.
Despite the loss of Yuvraj, Raina continued his brilliant innings. Supported by Yusuf Pathan the young Indian blasted 18 runs of Kleinveldt in the 17th as India was threatned to run up a big total.
Pathan (11) was dismissed by Dale Styen in the 18th over but there was still time for Raina to complete a well deserved century by smashing Morkel for a huge six over midwicket in the last over.
Raina’s innings came to and end off the very next delivery after he was caught be AB de Villiers but the damaged had already been done as Raina scored an extra 96 runs after the no ball catch to punish South Africa who conceded 50 runs off the last 3 overs as India reached 186-5.