|Suresh Raina, on way to his 47, in Ranchi, on Sunday. (PTI)
Ranchi: The Chennai Super Kings won, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni didn’t hit the winning runs this time around.
With just five runs needed for victory, the icon departed after scoring seven when the near full house was bracing for a fitting climax. Back in January 2012, the Team India captain had brought up the victory against England, the only other occasion he has played at the JSCA International Stadium.
Dhoni’s new Mock hairstyle did prove to be lucky otherwise.
The Super Kings had no trouble in reaching the 186-run target with more than an over to spare in their opening match of the Champions League T20. The Nashua Titans were forced to rue their missed chances in the end.
It was smooth sailing for the Super Kings during their four-wicket victory. The start to their innings couldn’t have been more dramatic. The lights in one of the towers went off after Murali Vijay was dismissed off the third ball of the innings.
Then Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina batted with the flourish and extravagance of a multi-millionaire at a casino, dealing only in boundaries and over boundaries, to dent the Titans’ chances.
It was a brutal assault as the Titans bowlers were taken to the cleaners leaving captain Henry Davids clueless. Taking advantage of the field restrictions, the pair took the aerial route and rocketed to 73 in the first six overs.
There was no looking back as the bowlers struggled with their line to combat the dew factor. Gripping the ball was tough as the batsmen made merry.
Dew was a major factor behind Dhoni’s decision to field and it was no surprise that the conditions only turned for the worse as the game wore on.
Raina looked at ease from the moment he walked in. His approach remains uncomplicated and delightful as he’s lovely to watch during a chase. His ability to find the gaps and put the opposition under pressure was a treat to watch.
Five boundaries and two sixes flowed from Raina’s bat during his 47 off 28 balls before he departed in the eighth over. Hussey (47 off 26 balls, 7x4, 1x6), too, wasn’t to be left behind. Morne Morkel and Marchant de Lange’s pace hardly proved to be effective in this wicket as the Super Kings galloped away.
The second-wicket pair had laid a solid foundation and the others simply had to rotate the strike to put it beyond the Titans reach. The late hiccups had no impact in the end result.
Till Hussey and Raina run amok, it was assumed that the Titans’ total would be tough to overhaul.
The Titans had taken a cautious approach at the outset. Having gauged the nature of the wicket after the Trinidad and Tobago-Brisbane Heat match, they realised it was important to keep wickets in hand.
The openers were never troubled by the bowling and concentrated on the ones and twos with the occasional boundary to break the monotony. After Jacques Rudolph was run out, Davids and AB de Villiers held fort.
The second wicket pair stitched together 76 runs in 37 balls, which gave a definite direction to the innings. Davids’ was a superb knock, considering the quality of the attack and his ability to force the pace.
The T20 specialist from Boland, who has been a regular with the South Africa squad, was undeterred by both pace and spin. The way he hoisted Ravichandran Ashwin for a six in his first over exemplified his confidence and determination.
Davids (52 off 43 balls, 4x4, 2x6) flourished in De Villiers’ company. He paid the penalty for stepping out to a wide delivery from Ashwin.