Raina rocks Bangalore party as Chennai storm into final

25 May 2011 by Raj in IPL 2011

Chennai Super Kings 177 for 4 beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 175 by six wickets
Man of the match: Suresh Raina

The Chennai Super Kings never looked like winning it and the Royal Challengers Bangalore never looked like losing it. Yet the end result was a sensational six wicket win for the former, who eventually became the first team to make it to the IPL finals in the fourth season. In a dramatic late assault, Suresh Raina and Albie Morkel carted Zaheer Khan and S Aravind all over the park to completely tilt the momentum of the game, which they easily won in the end with ample wickets in hand. The efforts of Raina in particular undid all the good work done by Virat Kohli earlier in the evening, whose unbeaten 70 had taken Bangalore to a challenging 175 in spite of the early loss of their dynamo, Chris Gayle.

The win saw Chennai make their third final in the four year old competition while the task for Bangalore suddenly becomes a lot more challenging. Not only do they have to beat the winner of the eliminator, but even if they do so, they will meet Chennai again in the final and that too at the latter’s home ground, the M A Chidambaram stadium. And statistics point out that Chennai have not lost a single match on their home ground this season.

Looking back at the game, it was definitely their bowling that cost Bangalore a game they should clearly have won. However, a few bad overs was all it needed for things to turn around. It all began in the ninth over bowled by Virat Kohli. In an over full of full tosses, 16 runs were leaked to give Chennai some much needed. A few overs later things got even worse for Bangalore. Abhimanyu Mithun sprayed it all over the place and conceded 23 runs. It was about the time Raina was beginning to settle in. In this particular over, he carted Mithun for a six over covers and slammed another over covers. Despite all that, Bangalore still held the edge as the equation read a difficult 82 from 42 balls. And it only got worse from there as Gayle, who could not contribute with the bat, chipped in with a excellent spell of 0 for 19 from four overs to make the equation 58 from 24.

Bangalore held the edge clearly, but this is when Raina proved his worth to the tea. He took on Zaheer Khan, who bowled a marvellous first spell, during which he not only took out Michael Hussey, but was extremely mean as well. But, just like in the World Cup final, he was taken apart in his second spell, which had only one over left. Raina carted two big sixes in the midwicket region. At the other end, M S Dhoni brought him bottom-hand into play to get another six. Even though Dhoni fell on the same over, 20 runs came off it and Chennai were well and truly on track.

The arrival of Morkel signaled the beginning of the end for Bangalore. S Aravind was slammed over both long-on and long-off by him before Raina slashed a full toss into the midwicket boundary. The over cost one more than Zaheer’s and left Chennai needing only 12 off the last over to be bowled by Daniel Vettori. It was easy for Chennai having done all the hard work. Morkel hauled a boundary to wide long-on and deposited the fourth ball over midwicket to launch Chennai into yet another IPL final.

The assault of Raina and Morkel outdid the impressive effort of Kohli, who blended caution with aggression to guide Bangalore to a healthy total. All this after Gayle was trapped lbw by R Aswhin cheaply. Kohli, in the company of Luke Pomersbach, made sure the scoreboard kept ticking. Pomersbach took on Dwayne Bravo and collected 17 runs in the 15th over. Kohli, on the other hand, batted with mature aggression never looking ugly even while going for the big stroke. He scored comfortably against Raina and Morkel, with two sixes off the latter’s in the 19th over. However, the same duo extracted their revenge by featuring in a match-winning partnership.

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