Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chennai back in IPL final with a bang

Super batting by Suresh Raina (73, 50b; 4x4, 6x6) and Albie Morkel (28, 10b; 1x4, 3x6) helped Chennai Super Kings beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets in the 1st qualifier at Wankhede stadium and enter the IPL final for the second successive year on Tuesday. Chasing 176 for victory, CSK were in a spot of bother when skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was out in the 17th over but Raina and Morkel changed the script with an undefeated 46-run stand off 18 balls.

The turning point of the match came in the 19th over when Morkel clobbered Sreenath Aravind for two successive sixes and Raina hit the third over mid-wicket. The left arm seamer conceded 21 runs and the fifth wicket pair completed the formalities by knocking off the required 12 in the 20th over. Morkel signalled CSK’s stunning win by hitting left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori over mid-wicket for a six. It was billed as Super Kings versus Super Gayle. But the law of averages caught up with the big-hitting Gayle. However, Virat Kohli resurrected RCB with a 44-ball 70 (5x4, 3x6) to take them to a formidable 175 for 4 in 20 overs.

When CSK began their chase, the asking rate was a little over eight but they lost the first two wickets in the first two overs. Zaheer Khan dismissed Mike Hussey with his sixth delivery having the Aussie plumb in front and in the next over Aravind removed Murali Vijay in similar fashion as CSK stuttered to 7-2. S Badrinath (34) and Raina added 63 off 58 balls to weather the early storm. But Badrinath’s attempt to hit Abhimanyu Mithun over extra-cover failed and was caught by a running Aravind. But Raina kept CSK in the hunt with amazing shots. He hit Mithun for 23 runs in his third over, which included two sixes and one four.

But Gayle’s fastish off-spin and the guile of skipper Vettori put the brakes on Raina’s aggressive batting ploy to leave CSK gasping for breath. The run-rate mounted to over 13. Raina slammed his fourth sixth to reach his 50 off 41 balls and Dhoni, too, joined the party. He hoisted Zaheer for a six but was out the next ball. However, Raina hit Zaheer over mid-wicket for a six, as the bowler leaked as many as 20 runs. Although Dhoni departed, man of the match Raina and Morkel destroyed RCB’s hopes. Earlier, the near empty stadium saw the early departure of Gayle as the left-hander’s run-spree came to a halt. He lasted only nine deliveries. Off-spinner Ravinchandran Ashwin had the big opener trapped in front with his third delivery. Going for a sweep shot, Gayle missed and umpire Simon Taufel had no hesitation in declaring him out. Gayle had struck Ashwin for a six in the previous delivery.

RCB had the best period of batting when Kohli and left-hander Luke Pomersbach (18-ball 29) were involved in a 48-run fourth-wicket partnership off 29 balls. It gave some momentum to the faltering RCB innings. Pomersbach slammed two fours and one six in Bravo’s third over. This partnership changed the course of RCB’s innings.

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