Suresh Raina dived to complete the second run off what was to be the last ball of the Chennai Super Kings innings only to see the fielders appeal for a run-out and the square-leg umpire go upstairs. Simultaneously,a free-hit was signalled. Shortly,the giant screen showed that Raina had made his ground. Now on 95,Raina got another opportunity to complete a century. Darren Sammy bowled a full-toss that Raina hit over extra-cover but the ball bounced once before crossing the ropes. Raina had missed out on a well-deserved century but he along with Michael Hussey had helped Chennai to 223.
In his first six matches Raina scored just 136 runs this season. In the next six,including Wednesday’s game against Sunrisers’ Hyderabad in which he made an unbeaten 99,Raina has made 322. The significant shift in form came when Raina helped Chennai register their seventh win on the trot with an unbeaten 100 against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. It was his maiden IPL hundred,coming a tad late in only the sixth season for someone who has excelled in Twenty20 cricket.
On Wednesday,Raina and Hussey,with a 133 run partnership for the second wicket,helped Chennai rebound from being bowled out for 79 versus Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede on Sunday.
Against the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowlers Raina scored just 16 runs in the ‘V’ and did the bulk of the scoring in his preferred areas wide over long off and cover and towards deep midwicket,deep square leg. Bowling to aggressive Raina proved to be too much of a task for Ishant Sharma who went for 66 runs in his four overs,25 of them coming in the 17th over of the innings he bowled to Raina. Sharma kept bowling wide of the off-stump or strayed down the leg side as he failed to keep the scoring in check.
Hussey also exploited the width on offer from Sharma to score 19 runs off seven balls the highlight being a six over the fine-leg area off an attempted slower ball. Hussey’s 67 off just 42 balls put him on top of the run-makers list ahead of Gayle,while Raina moved into third place.
Karan Sharma who was fielding at point did his team no favour by dropping Raina off leg-spinner Amit Mishra when the batsman was on 25. But the day started to go wrong for Ishant and the Sunrisers when opener Murali Vijay hit Sharma for three consecutive sixes in the fifth over of the innings.
Steyn an exception
The one bowler who stood out for the Sunrisers was South African paceman Dale Steyn,who gave away just 17 runs in his four overs,a spell that included a maiden in the first over of the Chennai innings. Hussey failed to get off the mark as he had to either shoulder arms or play at deliveries that swung into him late at upwards of 140 kmph. Steyn’s second over cost Hyderabad only two runs,while his third went for just 5 runs. But the continued…