Suresh Raina (109 not out) played an innings of lifetime to help Chennai Super Kings to an eight-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the final of the Oppo Champions League T20 tournament at the packed Mangalam Chinnaswamy Stadium here Saturday.
It was a knock to remember as Raina unleashed a flurry of shots, marked by elegance, silken touch and timing, and the Super Kings chased down Knight Riders’ total of 180 for six that was built around Gautam Gambhir’s knock of 80 even as left-arm spinner Pawan Negi picked up five wickets. The Super Kings finished the match in the 19th over, making 185 for two.
The Super Kings thus regained the trophy they had last won in 2010 in South Africa while also ending Knight Riders’ winning streak of 14 matches and picking up the winner’s purse of $2.5 million. IPL champions Knight Riders received $1.3 million.
Thanks to Raina’s superb innings, the Super Kings were never in trouble despite the loss of opener Dwayne Smith in the very first over. Raina and Brendon McCullum who made a comparatively subdued 39 added 118 runs for the second wicket in just 12.2 overs to pave the way for a successful chase.
After McCullum’s departure, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (23 not out) walked in to add finishing touches while Raina went from strength to strength to complete a magnificent century that will be long remembered.
Earlier, Gambhir and Robin Uthappa (39) provided a great platform for Knight Riders with an opening stand of 95 in 10.5 overs before Negi struck telling blows to pick up five wickets, three of those in his final over.
However, at the other end, seamers Ashish Nehra (39 runs in two overs) and Dwayne Bravo (18 in one) came in for heavy punishment at the end when Manish Pandey (32) and Yusuf Pathan (20 not out) wielded the long handle as Knight Riders finished on 180 for six.
The Super Kings fielding and bowling, with the exception of 21-year old Negi, were rather sloppy. Both Gambhir and Uthappa made capital of these lapses to put together a solid partnership.
Gambhir rode his luck to the hilt, but his innings also showcased his undoubted ability as a strokemaker to evoke memories of his halcyon days as India opener.
At the other end, Uthappa batted quite beautifully with well-timed drives and lofted hits that underlined the form he is in, but squandered the good start by charging Negi to be beaten by turn and flight and stumped.
Negi, varying pace and flight, bowled extremely well to run through the middle-order, but lacked support at the other end from where Nehra and Bravo leaked runs with Pandey and Pathan flogging them.