The Chennai Super Kings added the Champions League T20 2014 to their trophy cabinet after they defeated the Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in the final of the Oppo CLT20 2014. In front of a boisterous crowd at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, MS Dhoni’s side – powered by Suresh Raina’s dazzling century – made light work of their chase of the 181-run target set by the IPL champions, romping home in 18.3 overs. Skipper MS Dhoni sealed the deal for his team in his signature style, hitting Pat Cummins for a six to take his team over the finish line. (Also Read: QUICK STATS: FINAL - KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS V CHENNAI SUPER KINGS)
After CSK lost opener Dwayne Smith in the very first over of the chase, Raina began in cheeky fashion as he got off the mark with a French cut. But there was no stopping the left-hander thereafter; the 27-year old was in his elements, picking the length quickly, was lightning quick on his feet, had clarity of thought when he attempted to go over the top and timed the ball beautifully.
When the left-hander chose to come down the track and hit over the top, he chose to hit straight down the ground; six of his eight sixes on the night were hit straight down the ground and into the sightscreen or the area adjacent to it. He also drove through cover and extra-cover for boundaries, and tucked the ball into the gap on the leg-side to pick up ones. He brought up his half-century off 27 balls (aided with three fours and four sixes) and needed a further 32 balls to get to the three-figure mark. When he got to his century, Raina became the first Indian cricketer to score three hundred in the T20 format. He was particularly severe on the two wrist spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla – scoring 57 runs off 24 deliveries from them.
Raina found an able aide in Brendon McCullum, who chose to play second-fiddle in the second-wicket partnership; in the 118-run association, the Kiwi batsman contributed 39 as against his partner’s 78. McCullum was dismissed at the start of the 14th over when he attempted to slog-sweep Yusuf Pathan but picked out Ryan ten Doeschate patrolling the mid-wicket boundary.
MS Dhoni promoted himself to bat at number four, and he and Raina took their side home in a canter. The pair ran well between the wickets and picked up boundaries frequently, bring up the 50-run partnership in 30 balls when MS Dhoni launched into Pat Cummins to finish things off in style. Raina remained unbeaten on 109 (studded with six fours and eight sixes), while Dhoni walked back with 23 (one four and two sixes).
For the Kolkata Knight Riders, Cummins and Yusuf Pathan were the wicket-takers. Things could have been different had KKR converted the two half-chances that came their way; Raina was handed reprieves on 78 (when neither the batsman nor wicket-keeper picked Kuldeep Yadav’s wrong’un) and on 88 (when Yusuf Pathan put down a difficult return catch).
Earlier in the evening, after being put in to bat, KKR needed a solid platform from which to build, and they got exactly that from their opening pair. Robin Uthappa held his shape and played some exquisite strokes in his 32-ball 39 – including a straight drive off Mohit Sharma and a punch on-drive off R Ashwin, while skipper Gautam Gambhir – who has made this habit of performing in high-stakes matches - used plenty of muscle in the course of his 52-ball knock.
Both batsmen matched each other run for run as the 50 came up in 5.4 overs. They operated smartly too, picking up plenty of singles apart from picking up one boundary every over, taking their team to 91 in the eleventh over. That’s when Robin charged out and attempted to hit Pawan Negi over the top, but was beaten in the flight and easily stumped by MS Dhoni. When Jacques Kallis perished in the left-arm spinner’s following over, and all the good work done by the openers had been undone.
Gambhir though wasn’t done for the night and soldiered on. He ensured there was addition to the scoreboard every delivery; the midwicket region was his preferred scoring region, while the on-drive fetched him plenty of runs too. The southpaw was involved in a partnership of 39 runs with Manish Pandey, before an attempted hit over the top off Ravindra Jadeja landed in the hands of Brendon McCullum. The KKR skipper made 80 – his highest score of the Oppo CLT20 2014 – and hit seven boundaries and three sixes before his dismissal in the 17th over.
Manish hit Ashish Nehra for two sixes and a boundary in the 18th over, before he became the first of Negi’s three victims in the 19th over. Yusuf Pathan’s blitz in the final over took the IPL champions to 180 for 6 - six more than the average first innings in T20 matches at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2014.
The Chennai Super Kings were far from a well-oiled unit on the field. There were several occasions when the KKR batsmen hit the ball straight to the fielder and pinched singles, opportunities to run out batsmen were missed, several runs were conceded through sloppy work on the field, and Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina grassed catches they would have held on to on another day. Barring Pawan Negi (whose 5 for 22 were the best bowling figures in the Champions League T20) and Ravindra Jadeja, none of the other CSK had answers to the KKR batsmen’s run-scoring ways. The two left-arm spinners conceded 47 runs and picked up six wickets in their eight overs, while the rest of the bowlers leaked 131 runs in 12 overs.
Chennai Super Kings win by 8 wickets
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 180-6 in 20.0 Overs (Robin Uthappa 39, Gautam Gambhir 80, Manish Pandey 32, Pawan Negi 5-22) lost to Chennai Super Kings 185-2 in 18.3 Overs (Brendon McCullum 39, Suresh Raina 109*, MS Dhoni 23*)
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS WIN OPPO CLT20 2014
Man of the Match: Pawan Negi, for his bowling figures of 5 for 22.
Man of the Series: Suresh Raina (CSK)
Golden Bat Award: Suresh Raina (CSK)
Golden Wicket Award: Sunil Narine (KKR)
Fair Play Award: Cape Cobras
Power Player of the Series: Suresh Raina (CSK)
Suresh Raina: "I always love playing in Bangalore, and the crowd is amazing here. I'm so happy for Negi bowling so well in the middle overs. I'm happy that today I delivered. I've seen Virat Kohli score big hundreds in ODIs, so I am learning from him. The way we played today was amazing."
Samuel Badree: "I haven't played many games for these guys, but it's a great side to be part of. CSK has been the most consistent team in T20s and it is great to get this monkey off our back. Caribbean celebrations tonight!"
Dwayne Smith: "For me, it's been a brilliant change coming from Mumbai. I love playing with these guys, and it's one of the best sides I've played for. I remember telling Badree that if we qualified, we'd win this tournament, and that's what's happened. This team is a great team and will go from strength to strength."
Francois du Plessis: "I thought it was a good score KKR got, but Suresh Raina - take a bow! We've got a lot of senior players who have done well round the world, and it filters down to the rest of the players."
Brendon McCullum: "Suresh's innings was world class, and he showed why he's the best T20 batsman in the world. We have a lot of leaders and exciting youngsters but the main thing is we all get on very well."
Dwayne Bravo: "It's a great team to be a part of. It's a trophy I've never won before, so I'm very happy. Words can't explain how I am feeling!"
Ravichandran Ashwin: "We haven't won a cup for 3 years, so we're happy today. Raina was hitting sixes like he was picking up peanuts. One of the best hundreds I have ever seen."
MS Dhoni: "I think overall it was a fantastic game for us. It was a fantastic toss to win with the dew factor in mind. I didn't think we started well, as our fielding wasn't great. Raina's batting was fantastic. We needed someone to stay there until the end, and that's what he did. Gautam batted really well for them. Once he got out, we were able to put pressure on the right handed batsmen. It's the 8th Final, and we've won 4 of them. We wanted to win this trophy, and we've done that. Raina was aggressive but very calculated. Kuldeep was fantastic for KKR this tournament. This tournament gives the youngsters the experience they need when they go out to the international arena."
Gautam Gambhir: "I think all of us should be proud of each other. Everyone should be proud of the 14 wins on the trot. This side is only going to get better. I think we thought 170-180 was possible. The dew made it difficult for the spinners to get any purchase. We've got a lot of character in the squad. They should be very proud of what they've done."