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Suresh Raina and Wriddhaman Saha compiled treasured gems for their respective teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) during the last stages of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Bharath Ramaraj compares the two contrasting knocks from them, which ironically ended in defeats for their teams.
When Suresh Raina walks into bat in a Twenty20 (T20) game, there is a whiff of anticipation. On his day, he has the ability to rip apart any bowling line-up. He can clout a back of a length delivery by plonking his front-foot forward and flat bat it for a six over mid-wicket. He can even get underneath a 90mph delivery to swat it over bewildered fielders between mid-wicket and long-on [cow corner] for a six.
So, there was heightened expectation among the frenzied fans at the Wankhede Stadium when with unrestrained adventurism, Raina blazed his way to a 25-ball 87 against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in Qualifier 2. The same can’t be said about Wriddhiman Saha, the wicketkeeper-batsman who played a gem of a knock against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 final.
When Saha walked into bat, most of the cricket pundits had a bewildered look on their face. Here was someone, who was sent into bat ahead of the man of the moment for Punjab in Glenn Maxwell. Yet, when Saha completed a well-deserved century, he was showered with encomiums. The hundred was a crowning glory moment for Saha.
Unlike Raina’s innings against Punjab, he took a bit of time to settle down at the crease. It has to be remembered that Punjab were looking to set a target in the IPL 7 final by building a huge edifice. On the other hand, Raina had no other choice, but to straightaway go after the bowling, as they were chasing a monstrous total set by Punjab.
Of course, in terms of areas they targeted to score the runs, they played in contrasting styles. Raina, at least in shorter formats of the game, plonks his front-foot forward and looks to send the ball soaring over the deep mid-wicket region for a six. In the abridged versions of the game, he doesn’t mind coming onto the front-foot even to short pitch stuff. It has to be said though, in the game against Punjab, he did show that he has a wider range of shots, as he played in the ‘V’ too.
Saha prefers to stay more on the back-foot and unlike Raina, doesn’t stay leg-side off the ball. He doesn’t have the power of Raina, but in the game against Kolkata, he more than made it up with fast hands. He looked to use more of the depth of the crease to go back and essay short-arm pulls against spinners on a slow deck. Even against the seamers, he used quick hands to make up for his tendency to play back to even pitched up deliveries. Saha has a shorter back-lift compared to Raina. Perhaps, Kolkata erred in bowling too full to him? One can analyse his knock forever, but it has to be said that Saha showed his batting prowess on the day.
It is interesting to note that both of those splendored efforts were compiled in losing causes. Even more intriguingly, Raina has been a part of Chennai since IPL 1 in 2008. Saha too played for Chennai for three seasons from 2011 to 2013.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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