A fine 73 by Suresh Raina helped defending champions Chennai Super Kings storm into the IPL-4 finals, defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore, in a well fought match in Mumbai on Tuesday night. Chasing 176 for victory, Chennai managed to recover from a shaky start to snatch an incredible victory riding on Raina’s stunning stroke play and some lusty hitting by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (29 off 19 balls) and all-rounder Albie Morkel (28 off 10). At one point, Royal Challengers were looking good to defend their decent total by picking up two early wickets of Chennai – 7 for 2.
Raina struck six sixes and four fours while fellow left-hander Morkel slammed three sixes and a four as the duo put on an unfinished stand of 46 runs in only 18 balls to guide the Super Kings. However, Royal Challengers lost the plot, especially in the last five overs, when the Chennai stepped up aggression to achieve what can be described as an impossible asking rate. Put into bat, Royal Challengers, relied on Virat Kohli’s rollicking 44-ball 70 to post a competitive 175 for four on a good track of the Wankhede stadium. “It was disappointing to see my team lose the IPL playoff-qualifier match against Chennai Super Kings, especially when I made an important contribution,” said the crest-fallen Virat Kohli in a post-match interview. He made no bones to speak out his mind bluntly saying; “It was disappointing to be on the losing side especially when you have put in best efforts while batting when your team wanted the most.” Of course, Kohli and his team, have another crucial encounter to face.
The new IPL format in its fourth edition has enabled the first play-off loser give yet another chance to move to finals by clashing with the winner of 3-4 position teams (Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders) on the table. Even, Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Daniel Vettori looked disappointed over the poor performance by his bowlers, especially the last four overs. Hence, there is no need for the young Kohli or skipper Vettori, or even in-form ‘giant killer’ Chris Gayle, to lose hopes. They can as well put up better show against the winner of tomorrow’s match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, to play their crucial last encounter on Friday to storm into finals and settle scores with Chennai Super Kings. Will they? Or wont they?