Bengaluru: A sea of yellow, an electrifying atmosphere and the Southern Lions with an insatiable appetite; one could have been forgiven for thinking they were in Chennai instead of the M. Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru. With Diwali just three weeks away Suresh Raina provided the perfect prelude to the festival of lights as he ensured Chennai Super Kings ended their two-year title drought, winning the Champions League T20 title with a thumping eight-wicket win over IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders on a Dusshera Saturday night here.
The left-hander’s breathtaking display with the bat which yielded an unconquered 109 runs off 62 balls (6×4, 8×6) made the Knights’ strong total of 180 for 6 look like a soft target. With their grip firmly on the title for the better part of the contest, billed as the clash of the titans, the Super Kings completed the formalities, cruising to the target with nine balls to spare.
The Knights sorely missed the presence of their mainstay spinner Sunil Narine, who was banned from the final for suspect bowling action, as their tweakers, especially Kuldeep Yadav, who on the day was picked for the Indian team for the one-dayers against West Indies, and Piyush Chawla were made to look like net bowlers.
Raina, who had scored 90 against the Dolphins at the same venue a few days ago, covered every inch of the stadium with fours and maximums en route to his third century in T20 cricket.Before Raina’s carnage, the Super Kings put on display a new star as man-of-the-match Pawan Negi, making his fourth appearance for the team, scalped his maiden five-for with figures of 5 for 22.
Earlier, at the same ground where they won the IPL title earlier this year, the Knights were up against a formidable side and a belligerent legion of Super Kings fans. Sent into to bat by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, they took the challenge without much urging as skipper Gautam Gambhir (80, 52b, 7×4, 3×6) and Robin Uthappa (39, 32b, 4×4, 1×6) managed to keep the decibel levels down with their cavalier batting.
Gambhir, who barring a 60 against the Lahore Lions, hasn’t stayed at the crease much in the League, changed the trend, warming up for the part with a boundary off Mohit Sharma in the second over. The Gambhir-Uthappa combine put up 95-run opening partnership which came off 65 balls.
Given their form and smooth sailing, one would have expected them to push their team past 200, but Uthappa, with an elementary mistake trudged back to the hut. Charging down the crease to go for a big one off Negi, he was beaten and wicketkeeper Dhoni knocked the bails off.
The exit of Uthappa saw a dip in the run rate. Jacques Kallis who came in next, was dropped first ball at first slip by Raina, only to depart three balls later, becoming Negi’s second victim. Manish Pandey (32, 19b, 2×4, 2×6) did up the run rate, with Ashish Nehra having a terrible day in office. But the 21-year-old Negi put brakes on the Kolkata outfit, with three quick wickets in the 19th over, sending back Pandey, Ryan ten Doeschate (0) and Surya Kumar Yadav (0) to cap a memorable day of disciplined bowling.
Kolkata Knight Riders: R. Uthappa st Dhoni b Negi 39, G. Gambhir c McCullum b Jadeja 80, J. Kallis c Nehra b Negi 1, M. Pandey c McCullum b Negi 32, Y. Pathan (not out) 20, R. ten Doeschate st Dhoni b Negi 0, S. Yadav c Nehra b Negi 0, A. Russell (not out) 2. Extras (nb1, w3, lb2) 6. Total (for six wickets in 20 overs) 180.
FoW: 1-91, 2-97, 3-136, 4-159, 5-161, 6-161.
Bowling: Nehra 4-0-54-0, Mohit 3-0-27-0, Ashwin 3-0-26-0, Negi 4-0-22-5, Jadeja 4-0-25-1, Bravo 2-0-24-0.
Chennai Super Kings: D. Smith b Cummins 8, B. McCullum c ten Doeschate b Yusuf 39, S. Raina (not out) 109, M.S. Dhoni (not out) 23. Extras (w4, lb2) 6. Total (for two wickets in 18.3 overs) 185.
FoW: 1-9, 2-127.
Bowling: Cummins 3-0-32-1, Russell 2-0-14-0, Kuldeep 4-0-44-0, Chawla 3-0-38-0, Suryakumar 3-0-21-0, Yusuf 3.3-0-34-1.