Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Suresh Raina stood up to be counted for the Chennai Super Kings as M S Dhoni’s men got the better of the Mumbai Indians in the title clash of IPL 3. In front of a capacity Sunday evening crowd at the D Y Patil stadium, Raina first blasted an unbeaten 57 from 35 balls to help his side recover from a slow start and post a highly challenging 168 for 5.
Then, when it was Chennai’s turn to defend the score, the youngster chipped in by dismissing Harbhajan Singh and also took a magnificent running catch to dismiss the dangerous Saurabh Tiwary as Mumbai’s batting fell apart. In a baffling move, the home side sent in Kieron Pollard at the fall of the sixth wicket, by which time the required rate had sky-rocketed to nearly 17.
And, so despite a last-ditch, big-hitting effort of 27 from 10 balls from the tall West Indian, Mumbai were left stranded, eventually falling 22 runs short.
There was nothing dramatic at the start of Chennai’s innings to suggest that they would end up posting a winning total. After winning the toss and promptly deciding to bat first, Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay were kept quiet in the wake of some accurate bowling from Mumbai bowlers.
Dilhara Fernando was particularly impressive, mixing his deliveries up very well and keeping the batsmen on their toes. Still, Chennai’s openers did well to add to keep their wickets in tact and add 44 for the first wicket at a steady pace.
But, once Vijay fell to Fernando, trying to break the shackles, the momentum clearly shifted in Mumbai’s direction. Hayden followed soon after struggling for his 17. And, with S Badrinath also not firing, Chennai had their back to the wall at 67 for 3 in the 12th over.
Chennai needed something special to recover. And, it came in the form of Raina, who timed and the placed the ball with ludicrous ease, on a pitch where most other struggled. Raina was lucky to be dropped twice in two overs.
But, to his credit he rode his luck. He played some superb lofted shots against Zaheer Khan and Kieron Pollard and also drove on the up, finding the gap with precision.
The left-hander raced to his half-century as Mumbai were made to pay dearly for their misses. While Raina, was brilliant at one end, it was actually skipper Dhoni who began the turnaround by smashing a couple of boundaries after the fall of the early wickets.
However, such was the impact of Raina’s knock that everything else paled in comparison. Chennai did not mind it though as they went into the mid-innings break having the upper hand.
The match was far from over as Mumbai had the arsenal in their ranks to chase it down. But, Chennai made things extremely tough for them right from the start. Doug Bollinger not only bowled a tight line, he also got an edgy Shikhar Dhawan to nick one in his opening over.
At the other end, R Ashwin carried on with the good work he had been doing throughout the tournament. For a change he wasn’t among the wickets, but kept runs at a premium, which aided Dhoni add extra pressure.
Mumbai did shine briefly during the chase. Sachin Tendulkar and Abhishek Nayar combined to bring their side back on track with a 66-run partnership. Tendukar found the boundary at regular intervals while Nayar hit a couple of big sixes off the spinners. However, once the partnership was broken, following a mix-up, things fell apart.
Mumbai did not help their cause by holding back Pollard for the last three overs. It was 114 for 6 by the time walked and there was just too much for him to do. He did give it his best shot, slamming three fours and two mighty sixes in the space of 9 deliveries.
It was far from enough though. In the end, Mumbai were left ruining the missed opportunities that let Raina get away and swing the final in Chennai’s favour.
No comments yet.