Suresh Raina slammed an unbeaten half-century to guide Chennai Super Kings to a thumping nine-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League match in Chennai on Tuesday.
He annihilated the Kolkata bowlers, smashing 78 from a mere 39 balls, inclusive of 11 boundaries and three sixes, as Chennai cruised to 143 for 1 in 13.3 overs and won with 39 deliveries to spare.
Murali Vijay gave him good support, scoring a brisk 50 from 40 balls, as the duo were involved in an unbroken stand of 137 in just 78 deliveries.
With this crushing victory, Chennai jumped to second in the standings, while Kolkata's hopes of making it to the semi-finals are all but over, having lost seven out of 12 matches.
Chennai Super Kings off-spinner R Ashwin, who took three for 16 to restrict Kolkata Knight Riders to 139 for eight in their 20 overs, was adjudged man of the match.
Electing to bat, Kolkata were reeling at 19 for four before Angelo Mathews rescued them with a composed innings of 48 from as many balls, having added 73 runs for the fifth wicket with Manoj Tiwary (27 from 31 balls).
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Chennai off-spinner R Ashwin crippled Kolkata at the start with two wickets in his second over. Chris Gayle was beaten in flight and stumped for seven, and four deliveries later Brendon McCullum was caught at short fine leg for a duck.
In the next over, Sourav Ganguly (10) was unlucky to be adjudged leg before wicket against Doug Bollinger as the ball looked to be sliding down the leg side. Wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni came up with a brilliant piece of glove work to stump David Hussey down the leg side and give Ashwin his third wicket.
He was unlucky not to get a hat-trick as Angelo Mathews was adjudged not out by umpire Simon Taufel despite being caught off the gloves at short leg.
The Kolkata batsman failed to pick up Ashwin's varations, who bowled 16 dot balls in his four-over spell during which he took three for 16.
Bollinger was once again tough to get away in the initial overs as he took one for nine in three, including 15 dot balls, which meant the duo between themselves bowled 31 dot balls out of the seven overs they sedn down.
At the halfway stage, Kolkata reached 51 for four, before Mathews broke the shackles.
And surprisingly, it was Muttiah Muraliatharan, who was leaking runs for Chennai. Mathews sent his compatriot for a boundary through third man and then slog-swept him for a six over midwicket. He repeated the dose in Muralitharan's next over for another four and six to take Kolkata to 85 for four after 13.
It was part-timer Suresh Raina who provided Chennai the important breakthrough. Tiwary, who made 27 from 31 balls, tried to hit Raina down the ground but was taken by Murali Vijay at wide long-on. The right-hander added 73 runs in 64 deliveries for the fifth wicket with Mathews to rescue Kolkata after they were reeling at 19 for four in the fourth over.
In the next over, Wriddhiman Saha (1) also perished cheaply, stumped by Dhoni off Jakati, as Kolkata were reduced to 98 for six after 16 overs.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla looked to score some quick runs in the final overs and hit Raina for two sixes down the ground, in the 17th over.
Shukla top-edged a pull shot against Bollinger and was caught by Matthew Hayden at mid-off after scoring 17 from 10 balls.
Mathews's splendid rearguard action finally ended when he was caught at short fine leg attempting to sweep Muralitharan after scoring 48 from as many deliveries. That wicket finally brought some relief to Muralitharan, who was hit for 47 runs in four overs.
Bollinger was again brilliant, claiming two for 15 in four overs, which included 18 dot balls.
Chennai Super Kings:
Like Chennai, Kolkata also opened with a spinner and the move worked. Chris Gayle got the vital wicket of Matthew Hayden for a duck, in the first over of the innings. The Australian was bowled as he looked to sweep but missed.
Suresh Raina played like a man possessed from the moment he stepped on the crease.
Ashok Dinda suffered in his first over, hit for three boundaries by Raina, much to the frustration of captain Sourav Ganguly. The Kolkata pacer got more rough treatment in his next over when Raina hit him for another couple of boundaries.
Gayle's good start was spoiled by Raina as he hit the off-spinner for three boundaries in a row to race to 42 from 17 balls, having hit nine boundaries. Chennai were 60 for one after five overs.
The Chennai left-hander brought up his half-century in style from 24 balls when he slammed Iqbal Abdulla for a huge six over midwicket, in the seventh over.
Raina then went after Angelo Mathews in his first over, hitting a huge straight six and then top-edging a pull for a boundary to take the total to 103 for one after ten overs.
Vijay joined in the party, hitting David Hussey's first ball back over his head for a maximum and then added another couple of fours in that over. That also brought up the 100-run partnership in just 58 deliveries between the duo as they took the match away from Kolkata.
After a steady start, the right-hander completed his half-century from 40 balls, inclusive of four boundaries and two sixes.
Quite deservedly, Raina finished off the match with a bang, thrashing Abdulla for a six over the midwicket feance.
Chennai cruised to 143 for one in 13.3 overs and won by nine wickets to leapfrog to second in the standings with 12 points from as many matches.
Raina was unbeaten on a smashing innings of 78 from a mere 39 balls, inclusive of 11 boundaries and three sixes. He was involved in a whirlwind unbroken partnership of 137 runs in 78 balls for the second wicket with Vijay, who was not on 50 from 40 balls.
Kolkata's hopes of advancing to the semi-finals are nearly over, having suffered their seventh loss in 12 matches.