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In the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 Qualifier 2 played between Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at Wankhede stadium, Suresh Raina blazed his way to smash 87 runs off 25 balls. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at the sparkling knock.
After the bespectacled Virender Sehwag’s blitzkrieg had taken Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to a monstrous total of 226 runs on the board in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 Qualifier 2, not many would have expected Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to give the opposition ranks jitters. However, for the six overs of CSK’s innings, Suresh Raina played sparkling shots and left KXIP’s fielders stupefied with his coup de main. Those strokes rocketed past bewildered and motionless fielders at the speed of knots.
On a belter of a track at Wankhede Stadium with a lightning outfield, the profusion of breathtaking strokes from Raina’s meaty bat just left everyone stunned for a few minutes. He came into bat after Faf du Plessis was sent on a long walk back to the pavilion by Mitchell Johnson, the left-arm paceman in the very first over of the innings.
In fact, it was in the second over of the innings, bowled by Sandeep Sharma, when Raina started to explore the nook and corner of the field. He made his intentions clear by making a bit of room by clouting Sandeep over mid-off for a boundary. It didn’t exactly come out of the middle of the bat, but it was a clear signal that Raina had decided to meet fire-with-fire.
The next shot was sweetly timed as he yet again targeted the mid-off region. He then proceeded to smash Sandeep over mid-wicket with a six. The merciless destruction of Punjab’s bowlers continued even when the fiery quick Johnson was bowling. Suddenly it seemed like Raina’s batting was akin to a turbocharged engine.
He clobbered Johnson over mid-wicket for a boundary and then thumped him over square-leg for a six. Raina soon completed his half-century off just 16 balls with an effortless six off Sandeep. The deck was flat but it requires marvellous skill to scatter the bowlers to shreds. In short, it was an innings that re-defined the boundaries of power-hitting in IPL.
But it was in the sixth over of the game that Raina touched dizzying heights. It rained sixes and fours from Raina’s bat, while facing seamer Parvinder Awana. He walloped Awana for 32 runs in a single over. There was also a no-ball as 33 runs came from the over. Those jaw-dropping hits bemused the enervated opposition setup and they looked lost for ideas. Unfortunately for Chennai, his sparkling innings of 87 off 25 balls had come to an end with a needles run-out.
His 25-ball sequence read — 4, 1, 4, 4, 0, 6, 4, 0, 4, 4, 0, 4, 6, 0, 6, 6, 1, 1, 6, 6, 4, 4, 4, 4 and 4. Raina must have gone through a gamut of emotions after being run-out. When he was dismissed, it felt like watching him from the prism of a tragic Greek hero. Raina deserved to be on the winning side after a majestic knock.
In the end, Chennai lost the game, but Raina won a thunderous applause for his heart-warming innings.
(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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