The Roar From Raina
After Kings XI Punjab posted 226 with the Nawab of Najafgarh – Virender Sehwag going on a rampage scoring 122 off 58, it was always going to be tough chasing such a target in a knock out encounter. But with the Wankhede wicket assisting the batsmen and all CSK batsmen in form, the target was very much within their reach. The blow came in very early when Faf du Plessis tried to pull a fiery Mitchell Johnson at shoulder height to get caught by George Bailey. The score was 1/1 after 0.2 overs. But with 6 more batsmen, there was not much to worry. Enter the prince of CSK – Suresh Raina!
With Raina facing the first ball of his innings and knowing his potential to take matches away from the opposition, Johnson chose to steam the ball in short; the ball angled down the leg as Raina got a slight tickle on the bat to guide the ball to the boundary behind the keeper. Sandeep Sharma, 20, was the next to bowl and Raina chose to waste no time; scoring 18 more runs including a six over mid-wicket landing near the second tier. Parvinder Awana came in next and Raina scored 8 runs off the three balls he faced in that over. Raina quickly moved on to 31 from 11 deliveries. Bailey realized things were getting serious and called Johnson back again. We all know Indian batsmen have been vulnerable to short balls, especially from fast bowlers like Johnson, but Raina had different plans in mind. He chose to take on Johnson as well; and a bowler of Johnson’s caliber ended up leaking 16 runs which included two sixes, one over mid-on and the other one behind square leg. Raina scored the second fastest fifty of the IPL in sixteen balls by carving Sandeep Sharma over covers for a maximum. Smith fell for a beautiful delivery in the end of the over. Raina took the strike in the last over of the PowerPlay, facing Awana again. What Raina did later was something no one could have thought of. The 6th over read – 6 6 4 4 4nb 4 4 – 33 runs. CSK raced away to 100/2 in just six overs with Raina scoring 87 of them in just 25 balls, shattering all the previous records. Raina was just a few deliveries away from scoring the fastest ton ever and CSK were well on track for a comfortable victory. George Bailey had no option but to opt for the strategic time out to regroup his troop.
Bailey introduced Karanveer Sharma into the attack. McCullum defended the ball towards cover and set off for a single, there was a hesitation between the batsmen before they decide to go for the single. George Bailey had a direct turn-around throw from covers and caught Raina short of his crease; to end what had been the best innings of the IPL. Bailey got mobbed and Raina was left distraught; so was the CSK dugout, the stadium and all the fans across the world. After 6.1 overs, CSK were 100/3, with 4 more specialist batsmen left and the required rate being as low as 9. It was CSK’s game. But fate had other plans. The batsmen failed and by the time Captain Cool MSD entered, he was out of specialist batting partners and the required rate climbed back to around 12. CSK managed to score 202 as they went on to lose by 24 runs.
The match helped us witness the comeback of a lost hero – Virender Sehwag. We all know the kind of fear he induces and the damage he can cause. Rightly deserved, social media has been dominated by posts praising him. But what about Raina? There were a few posts about him, but he deserved a lot more, a lot more than Sehwag himself may be. And that is because what Sehwag did, was something we have come across earlier, but what Raina did was something new; never witnessed before. The knock introduced a new “one man army” in the world of cricket. It was not a knock of mindless slogging, but calculated manipulative stroking of the ball. He managed to breach through every field set by Bailey with panache. It was heartening to see the next Indian captain for the upcoming Bangladesh tour playing with such flamboyance. It was a night which every cricket fan would remember. It was perhaps the loudest, scariest and wildest roar ever by any lion; a roar which lasted for around 30 minutes and shook the entire world; a roar which no one can forget in their lifetime.