All three IPL teams wanted to round off their three years of togetherness with a triumph in the Champions League. But as the tournament draws to a close, there’s just one team left with a chance to realise the dream — the Chennai Super Kings.
After demolishing Royal Challengers Bangalore by 52 runs in the semifinal on Friday, they are just a step away from becoming the first team to simultaneously hold the IPL and Champions League crown.
And it’s Suresh Raina who pushed them a step closer to it. The left-hander hammered a swashbuckling 94 off just 48 balls to finish off the game before Bangalore could even come out to chase the stiff 176-run target in the rain-affected 17-overs-a-side match.
The bowlers must have fancied their chances against Raina on the fast and bouncy Kingsmead track — the left-hander has already been bounced out twice in the tournament. But it wasn’t to be as he savagely slogged whatever was hurled at him from mid-wicket to the long-on region with regularity and ferocity.
Yes, Dale Steyn, who could have actually tested Raina with the short stuff, wasn’t there, but still nothing could be taken away from his knock. “Raina deserves a lot of credit for his knock. It wasn’t easy out there, but he made it so,” said Kumble.
CSK skipper Dhoni, too, was impressed how Raina stood up to the challenge, especially to the short balls. “He batted superbly well. They attacked him with short-pitched deliveries, but he played great shots and cleared the boundaries most of the times.,” said Dhoni.
Even as such brilliant solo acts played their part in CSK’s journey so far, it was overall a team effort that helped them outrun the two more fancied IPL teams in these conditions.
“We never got time to spend together or have net sessions, practice sessions and all those things. But I believe the performance of the team has been good,” said Dhoni.
And having come this far, the CSK skipper isn’t losing any sleep over who he faces in the final — the Redbacks or the Warriors. No, he isn’t being arrogant when he says they are up for it and it doesn’t matter who they play in the final. It’s just that he believes T20 format is all about “that particular day”.
“I think everything depends on the kind of wicket that is provided, and what kind of start we get, and our batting and bowling,” he said. And with results being what they are for the Chennai Super Kings, one can’t help but agree with Dhoni.