Kings XI Punjab reached their first IPL final © IANS
By R Vishal
May 30, 2014
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) booked a place in the final of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the first time since the tournament’s inception by holding their nerve despite a resilient chase by Chennai Super Kings (CSK), led by a stupendous 87 off 25 balls by Suresh Raina. Chennai were in the hunt till the 12th over but slumped to a loss after Virender Sehwag’s blistering ton took his team to an insurmountable score of 226.
Chasing yet another humongous score posted by Punjab, Chennai got off to a start that they dreaded when Faf du Plessis failed to connect to a Mitchell Johnson short ball. Skipper Geroge Bailey positioned himself well and concentrated well to take a good catch at mid on. Raina then started things off with flick to boundary on the leg-side.
Nine runs came off the eventful first over and Raina then tore into Sandeep Sharma in the second over with two superb straight drives down the ground for boundaries and then smashed a huge six over deep mid-wicket. Then Raina smashed through the overs to bring up 18 runs of the over. Then Awana erred in line and Raina played an effortless pull short to the boundary.
After a blazing star despite Johnson dismissing Faf du Plessis in the overs, the Australian was brought on to get another strike but Raina showed is class there. Johnson erred in line miserably and was cut to ribbons by the relentless hitting of Raina. There were two big sixes on the leg side a short ball didn’t get sufficient bounce and was taken tot the boundary ropes.
There was more damage in the next over of Sandeep Sharma with a flick on the leg side and a huge six over covers on the off-side to bring up his half-century of just 16 balls.
Suresh Raina’s carnage was had reached fever pitch and was on its way on become one of the special Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 innings. The sixth over off Parvinder Awana had a jaw-dropping 33 runs of it. Move over Yusuf Pathan, Ab de Villiers or even Sehwag’s scintillating hundred earlier in the day. Straight drives and flicks were raining the over started with two flicks that beat the fielders that were placed fine inside the ring.
Awana continued to over-pitch the ball and the southpaw carved the ball out of the park in consecutive deliveries. Then he went on to bowl a desperate full toss that went for a four behind square for a boundary. It no ball ball and he went for two more fours and brought the crowd to the edge of their seats and sent shudders in the opposition camp. It looked like Chennai would bring up the highest chase in IPL history. In an unfortunate misjudgement by Brendon McCullum and Raina in the middle, George Bailey’s direct hit brought an end to the special knock.
Raina’s dismissal put the brakes on the scoring and Chennai went through a 20-ball dry spell. Then Ravindra Jadeja led the way by stepping down to rookie spinner Karandeep Singh and smashing two sixes down the ground. But a double-strike broke their back. First McCullum’s rather rusty stay at the crease met its demise through the New Zealand’s captain’s own poor running that caught him short of the ground. Then Jadeja came down the ground and slashed the ball hard off Parvinder Awana and Johnson took and excellent catch leaning forward at third man.
David Hussey need to get a quick move on and that was not up the veteran Australian’s comfort zone and a weak pull short landed straight to Sehwag at short-mid wicket. The flurry of wickets had broken the two-time champions’ back and Mahendra Singh Dhoni was left to chase a mountain in front of him. Ravichandran Ashwin departed after trying to step down and heave the spinner out of the park. Two overs before the innings ended, there was drama after Dhoni was bowled by Johnson but replays showed that the left-armer had overstepped by a mile. Dhoni led a typical late onslaught but it was when the game was out of reach and Punjab deservedly reached the final for not capitulating while Raina was going berserk.
Kings XI Punjab 226 for 6 in 20 overs (Virender Sehwag 122, Manan Vohra 34, David Miller 38; Ashish Nehra 2 for 51) beat Chennai Super Kings 202 for 7 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 87,Ravindra Jadeja 27, MS Dhoni 42*; Parvinder Awana 2 for 44) by 24 runs.
Man of the Match: Virender Sehwag
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(R Vishal is a journalist and alumni of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter@vishhell)