CHAMPIONS: Scintillating Raina Powers CSK to 2014 Title

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Chennai Super Kings defeated the Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets

The Chennai Super Kings added the Champions League T20 2014 to their trophy cabinet after they defeated the Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in the final of the Oppo CLT20 2014. In front of a boisterous crowd at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, MS Dhoni’s side – powered by Suresh Raina’s dazzling century – made light work of their chase of the 181-run target set by the IPL champions, romping home in 18.3 overs. Skipper MS Dhoni sealed the deal for his team in his signature style, hitting Pat Cummins for a six to take his team over the finish line.

After CSK lost opener Dwayne Smith in the very first over of the chase, Raina began in cheeky fashion as he got off the mark with a French cut. But there was no stopping the left-hander thereafter; the 27-year old was in his elements, picking the length quickly, was lightning quick on his feet, had clarity of thought when he attempted to go over the top and timed the ball beautifully.

When the left-hander chose to come down the track and hit over the top, he chose to hit straight down the ground; six of his eight sixes on the night were hit straight down the ground and into the sightscreen or the area adjacent to it. He also drove through cover and extra-cover for boundaries, and tucked the ball into the gap on the leg-side to pick up ones. He brought up his half-century off 27 balls (aided with three fours and four sixes) and needed a further 32 balls to get to the three-figure mark. When he got to his century, Raina became the first Indian cricketer to score three hundred in the T20 format. He was particularly severe on the two wrist spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla – scoring 57 runs off 24 deliveries from them.

Raina found an able aide in Brendon McCullum, who chose to play second-fiddle in the second-wicket partnership; in the 118-run association, the Kiwi batsman contributed 39 as against his partner’s 78. McCullum was dismissed at the start of the 14th over when he attempted to slog-sweep Yusuf Pathan but picked out Ryan ten Doeschate patrolling the mid-wicket boundary.

MS Dhoni promoted himself to bat at number four, and he and Raina took their side home in a canter. The pair ran well between the wickets and picked up boundaries frequently, bring up the 50-run partnership in 30 balls when MS Dhoni launched into Pat Cummins to finish things off in style. Raina remained unbeaten on 109 (studded with six fours and eight sixes), while Dhoni walked back with 23 (one four and two sixes).

For the Kolkata Knight Riders, Cummins and Yusuf Pathan were the wicket-takers. Things could have been different had KKR converted the two half-chances that came their way; Raina was handed reprieves on 78 (when neither the batsman nor wicket-keeper picked Kuldeep Yadav’s wrong’un) and on 88 (when Yusuf Pathan put down a difficult return catch).

Earlier in the evening, after being put in to bat, KKR needed a solid platform from which to build, and they got exactly that from their opening pair. Robin Uthappa held his shape and played some exquisite strokes in his 32-ball 39 – including a straight drive off Mohit Sharma and a punch on-drive off R Ashwin, while skipper Gautam Gambhir – who has made this habit of performing in high-stakes matches – used plenty of muscle in the course of his 52-ball knock.

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