It is not for nothing that cricket has been branded as the game of glorious uncertainties. Just two days back, Chennai Super Kings made a back-door entry into the semifinals. In a crucial match, the Lahore Lions couldn’t beat Perth Scorchers, who, other than their Western Australian fans back home, drew emotional support from everyone in Chennai. But if CSK bounced back from the fringes, KKR continued to steamroll through the champions’ league and looked strong title winners. KKR had only one thing going against them and that had nothing to do with their cricketing abilities. After beating Hobart Hurricanes on Thursday, KKR added 14th victory to their winning streak in T20 games and as per the mathematical probability, based on the law-of-averages, it was time that the streak was broken. In one of the most engaging final on Saturday, KKR did very well to put up 180 on the board. When CSK came on to chase 181, KKR still had hopes despite Sunil Narine not playing for them. But the one man, who took the KKR bull by its horns, was the 27-year old Suresh Kumar Raina. The guy took complete command of the game in the first over itself, when Dwayne Smith got out and he was still there as CSK went over the finish line with 9 balls to spare.
Gautam Gambhir losing the toss was no big pain for Kolkata Knight Riders as they put up a solid 91 run stand for the first wicket. Even after Robin Uthappa and Jacques Kallis got out in the 11th and 13th overs respectively, Gambhir had the company of Manish Pandey for the third wicket. But CSK had an unexpected advantage coming their way in the middle overs. Pawan Negi began slowing down the proceedings for KKR with his nagging line. He first accounted for Uthappa, who couldn’t read the speed of the slower ball and was beaten in flight to be easily stumped. It was the first gift that KKR presented to CSK. Jacques Kallis, who had a great previous game against the Hurricanes, lasted just 4 balls before falling to yet another slower delivery from Negi. Meanwhile, Gambhir kept the other end going until the 17th over, when KKR had reached 136/2. At this point, Gambhir’s brilliant innings was ended by Ravindra Jadeja as the batsman tried to drag a fuller length ball from off side to the on. Instead, he got a thick top edge that was marvelously caught by Brendon McCullum, who darted across from long-off to finish the great catching act. Gambhir’s 80 runs were made in 52 balls with 7 fours and 3 sixes. After Gambhir’s exit, Pandey blasted Ashish Nehra for 20 runs in the 18th over but in the next over, Negi gave away just 2 runs and accounted for three batsmen. Manish Pandey was the first to go, as his big slog was taken by McCullum. Next to depart was Ten Doeschate, who fell to a wide delivery that he missed and Dhoni stumped him. Negi’s third wicket was Suryakumar Yadav, who attempted a reverse slap but didn’t get the height and Nehra caught him at third man. But KKR still had the last over in which Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell made 19 and the innings ended at 180/6.
In pressure situations, 181 can be a difficult target. But CSK is one team, which have gone through such moments umpteenth times. They began by losing Dwayne Smith in the first over of the innings and that brought Suresh Raina. With McCullum keeping him company, Raina began in right earnest scoring a cheeky boundary from first ball he faced. The two batsmen went about scoring 60 at the end of 6th overs batting power-play and continued in the same vein until the 14th over, when Yusuf Pathan’s first ball had the New Zealander playing across the line for a straight catch to Tendo. McCullum made a useful 39 off 30 balls and added 98 for the second wicket with Raina. Dhoni came at the fall of McCullum’s wicket and remained unbeaten till the end. The CSK captain added 58 with Suresh Raina and took the Champions’ League Trophy in great style. But it was Suresh Raina, who played a dominant role in CSK’s win that looked easy in the end. Raina’s 109 were scored in 62 balls with 6 fours and 8 sixes. It was also his third T20 century, which came at the crunch time. But he missed the player-of-the-match that was rightfully claimed by his teammate Pawan Negi with his fantastic spell of 5/22 in four overs. But Raina collected a bigger award as the Player-of-the-series.
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