Raina came out to bat when CSK were struggling at 9 for one © PTI
Suresh Raina came out to bat when CSK were struggling at 9 for one but took the team to easy victory © PTI

Suresh Raina’s century in the final of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 was his third significant knock in the year, which highlighted his class as a limited-overs batsman. Raina blew away the Kolkata Knight Riders to win the CLT20 for the second time for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the three important knocks.

Suresh Raina’s innings was proof of his prowess in Twenty20. Absorbing the pressure of the CLT20 2014 final, Raina tore into the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bowlers to bring silverware to the CSK cabinet. In the yellow jersey, Raina has an undisputed dominant force — an important cog in the CSK line-up that boasts of some big international names. At No. 3 he is the fulcrum of the batting and the enforcer who normally guides the innings. But, in 2014, one may have seen Raina grow into a better batsman — his skill set expanding.

There are three knocks in 2014 that would stand out from Raina. During the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 playoff against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), he smashed 87 off 25 balls — an audacious innings reflecting great skill. There weren’t any wild slogs, but proper cricketing shots. All along, he looked effortless as he pierced the gaps and lofted over the top with ease. That knock failed to get CSK across the line, but it showed how easily he could pick runs in the format.

The second knock that would stand out is his One-Day International (ODI) ton against England at Cardiff. Battling the critics, Raina showed considerable improvement in his technique in testing conditions. The ball was seaming, the bowlers targeted him with the short ball. Raina showed an attacking intent against the chin music and was quite assured with the ball moving around. It showed that he had put in the hard yards to iron out the wrinkles.

The third innings was his latest assault on KKR. The opposition did not bowl badly, but Raina was on song. The spinners were punished wherever they bowled. There were times when he danced down the track and did not reach the pitch of the ball. However, he still managed to reach out and hit it over the fielders for a six. And, though there was the pressure from the scoreboard, he nonchalantly went on to smash it around and get the job done.

These knocks are proof of Raina’s maturity and have shown that he is on track ahead of the ICC World Cup 2015. One may not want to read too much into the T20 knocks, but even then, his performance in that ODI in England showed how well he has grown as a batsman. Raina has to now sustain this form ahead of the home series against the West Indies and carry it Down Under.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)