MUMBAI - Suresh Raina scored a fighting unbeaten 73 to guide defending champions Chennai Super Kings to the final of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first qualifier here Tuesday.
Batting with muscle cramps, Raina struck a 50-ball 73, which was studded with four fours and six sixes, and was involved in three crucial parterships that saw Super Kings achieve the target of 176 with two balls to spare at the sparsely filled Wankhede Stadium.
Royal Challengers, who score a challenging 175 for four in 20 overs, however, still have a chance to make the final as they will face the winner of the eliminator match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, in Friday’s second qualifier for a place in the title.
Super Kings made a poor start to the challenging total as they lost both the openers Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay (5) for just seven runs by the second over.
But Raina helped them recover with a 63-run third wicket stand with Subramaniam Badrinath (34).
Raina and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who scored a 19-ball 29, then kept Super Kings in the hunt with their 61-run partnership. Dhoni, who smashed three fours and a six, perished in his attempt to hit out Zaheer Khan but was caught at long on by Sreenath Aravind in the 17th over.
Raina and Albie Morkel, who struck a 10-ball 28, then displayed some lusty hitting to take Super Kings home safely.
Royal Challengers’ bowlers had themselves to blame for the loss as they bowled poorly when it mattered the most, giving away easy runs. Super Kings scored 67 runs from the last 28 balls and both Zaheer and Aravind gave away a total of 41 runs from their two overs.
Morkel hit Aravind for two consecutive sixes in the first three balls and Raina wrapped up the penultimate over with another six off a low full toss.
Morkel finished the match in style with a six over mid-wicket in the last over off Banaglore skipper Daniel Vettori.
Earlier, put in, Royal Challengers made a challenging 175 for four in 20 overs after Virat Kohli struck a superb unbeaten 70 in only 44 deliveries.
Kohli began slowly but accelerated towards the end of the innings, hitting three sixes and five fours.
Opener Mayank Agarwal made 34 in 33 balls with five fours and Luke Pomersbach made a quick-fire 29 in 18 balls.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Mayank Agarwal c Bollinger b Bravo 34
Chris Gayle lbw b Ashwin 8
Virat Kohli not out 70
AB de Villiers c Vijay b Jakati 11
Luke Pomersbach b Bollinger 29
Saurabh Tiwary not out 9
Extras (b-2, lb-7, w-5): 14
Total: (4 wickets; 20 overs): 175
Fall of wickets: 1-30 (Gayle, 3.3 overs), 2-65 (Agarwal, 8.6), 3-85 (de Villiers, 11.5), 4-133 (Pomersbach, 16.4)
Albie Morkel 4-0-40-0
Doug Bollinger 4-0-20-1
R. Ashwin 4-0-33-1
Dwayne Bravo 3-0-28-1
Shadab Jakati 4-0-37-1
Suresh Raina 1-0-8-0
Chennai Super Kings:
Michael Hussey lbw b Khan 0
Murali Vijay lbw b Aravind 5
Suresh Raina not out 73
Subramanium Badrinath c Aravind b Mithun 34
Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Mithun b Khan 29
Albie Morkel not out 28
Extras (b-1, lb-1, w-4, nb-2): 8
Total (4 wickets; 19.4 overs): 177
Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Hussey, 0.6 overs), 2-7 (Vijay, 1.3), 3-70 (Badrinath, 10.6), 4-131 (Dhoni, 16.4)
Zaheer Khan 4-0-31-2
Sreenath Aravind 3-0-32-1
Abhimanyu Mithun 3-0-32-1
Virat Kohli 2-0-19-0
Daniel Vettori 3.4-0-42-0
Chris Gayle 4-0-19-0
Toss: Chennai Super Kings, who chose to field
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pakistan) and Simon Taufel (Australia)
TV umpire: Paul Reiffel (Australia)
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)