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Coming to the party at the fall of the first wicket,Suresh Raina smashed a whirlwind 42-ball 82 in an unbroken 140-run stand with Michael Hussey to set the game up for the Chennai Super Kings. The south-paw has been a consistent performer for the MS Dhoni-led side along with the left-handed opener for the team in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013.
With his swashbuckling innings, interspersed with five boundaries and sixes each, Raina who has amassed 548 runs from 17 games so far helped put CSK in a commanding position after MS Dhoni opted to bat first. The youngster who has been part of the franchise since the inception of the tournament spoke about the key to the team’s success as they stake their claim to the trophy for the third time.
After beating the Mumbai Indians at the Feroz Shah Kotla to book a place in the IPL final for the fifth time in six seasons, Raina spoke to IPLT20.com about his innings and the Chennai Super Kings.
Excerpts from the interview:
On his innings
It is important how you bat under pressure. And I have always enjoyed batting with (Michael) Hussey. He is such a nice player, and is amazing when it comes to delivering in pressure situations. I have learnt a lot from him in the middle. The batting is coming good now and hope we do well in one more game (final).
On whether the plan was that Hussey holds up one end while he attacks?
No nothing like that. I am an experienced player so I knew that I had responsibility on me and when you do well under pressure like I have done before; when you deliver when given the responsibility it feels good. But the plan was the more we bat till the end the better. And since both of us are left-hand batsmen and they have Mitchell Johnson and Harbhajan Singh and their overs were over. (Pragyan) Ojha had to bowl. And since we have had good partnerships in recent games we are used to batting together and hopefully in the coming match also we can do well.
On the six off Lasith Malinga
I knew he would bowl a Yorker. He didn’t have any other option and when the Yorker is not perfect and if you get a full toss then it gets hit. That is my strength and I have been playing against Malinga for a few years now and have been successful against him in one-dayers, and also in Sri Lanka. I have played many games against him so I know his game plan. But he is a big player and the pressure is there. Tuesday was my day and I was successful. On his day he will do well.
On it not just being about luck but the planning and work involved in his consistent performances
Yes there is hard work and prayers of the family and blessings of the fans. You feel good when you do well for your team and (Stephen) Fleming feels happy, Hussey feels happy, skipper feels happy. All these senior players are happy. Everyone’s emotions are attached because it could be the last year for some players and then there will be a new season. But when the team is together as a unit it gives strength and everyone enjoys each others success. Today I did well, Hussey and Jadeja did well. The success mantra of our team is that we enjoy each other’s success.
Having lost both league matches to MI what was the plan in Qualifier 1?
Stephen Fleming has said that we had lost both the matches to MI in league so Tuesday it was important that we balance it. It was a pressure game for both teams. We are playing in Delhi, a different venue for both, support is fifty-fifty. But at the same time I have played in this region and spent a lot of time here, so that helped. In a pressure game whoever gets tense first will lose the battle. But they are good side and they have one more game to go. Hopefully it will be good if we get to play the final against them in Kolkata.
On the importance of mental strength to succeeding in T20 and in crucial matches
More than mental toughness I would say it is all about fitness. How you enjoy on the field. You see how each and everyone is improving their game, fitness is important. I believe in hard work. One has to go out there and field and bring in energy into the team. I have always played like that. If you are low on the inside your best doesn’t come out. When the intensity is good then you get to see quality cricket. The skipper also feels what we have discussed is happening. Twenty20 is all about your fitness, all about your approach to the game. People feel twenty overs is less time but this is high intensity cricket. It is not easy at all.
On the key to CSK’s success in tough and crucial games
Flemings way of thinking is amazing. He has played over hundred Tests and he knows when you are losing and when you are succeeding. What to do off the field. I am learning a lot from him. And then MS Dhoni (who has done so well for India) and the youngsters in the team are doing well. And everyone cares about each other. Our support staff, Greg King and Tommy are doing much for the team despite various difficulties, some at the personal level. It is a kind of sacrifice. And when you sacrifice something is only when God gives you something. And we I think that is what we have done, our franchise and our support staff.
On Michael Hussey’s role
A big role! He has got the Orange Cap. He is a very humble guy. He thinks for the team and it is good. On CSK having match winning players who have always performed when needed. God has been kind. When you get the opportunity you have to perform in a pressure situation. As a professional cricketer, the coach, captain, franchise and team all expect that you do well. So when someone performs the expectations from that person increases and I like that. Hope we do well in the next game as well.
On CSK being in the IPL final for the fifth time
It has been a very good effort by the team and especially our coaching staff. We have done well and feel good now. There is one more game to go. There are three days in between so there will be a lot of thinking going on. We have a lot of hard work to do. The Kolkata wicket is not easy, you will have to work hard. I hope if we practice there for a day it will help. God willing things will be good. Let us see what happens.
When Dwayne Smith was scoring runs at will, one almost got the feeling that a target of 193 set by Chennai Super Kings would be chased down in less than twenty overs. The ball was dispatched to all parts of the ground, some sixes were towering, some flat on the boundary ropes while some of them was left for the crowd to do the catching.
For a moment even CSK captain MS Dhoni would have had second thoughts about the daunting target when Smith was treating every CSK bowler with disdain.
Smith was scoring at a strike-rate of over two hundred and when he was out caught by Suresh Raina off Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling in the ninth over, Smith had already scored 68 off 28 balls with five sixes and six fours. Mumbai Indians were in a position of control even after Smith’s departure purely because of the start given by the West Indian opener. To MI’s dismay the team could not capitalize on Smith’s blitzkrieg as they fell short of the target by 49 runs. Smith was gutted with the team’s loss as he quietly sat in a corner after watching his team go down.
“It is unfortunate to end up on the losing side. I love to win,” said Smith after the match in a quick chat with IPLT20.com.
Saddening it was to be as Smith was going great guns having blasted Chris Morrisand R Ashwin for sixes until CSK decided to take the strategic time-out before the seventh over of the match. Smith was dismissed an over after the time-out and from then on it was CSK all the way.
When asked if the time-out broke the momentum of his knock, Smith said “I do not think that the time-out broke the momentum of the game. At some point of time it always had to happen and I was ready to regroup my innings after the short break. If I had been there for a little more time, we could have probably gone on to win the game.”
Chasing 193 was never meant to be easy and Smith’s message from the dressing room before the run chase was clear. “For me it was just to make sure we got some quick runs on the board and as many as possible so that we could have ourselves in a good position. We were going on well and always felt we were in the game. The wicket got better in the second innings. There was more even bounce and it was lovely to bat on which made us confident of achieving the target,” said Smith.
Smith also felt there were several turning points to the game. “I think myself getting out and the two quick wickets of Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma to fall later were the turning points of the game. “There was a ray of hope when Kieron Pollard was going well, but wickets falling at regular intervals did not help our cause,” he added. With one more shot for the spot, Smith said the side will be more eager to perform in their next game.
“We still have another chance. We have to regroup and comeback strong in the next game to get a chance to play in the final. We are still in the competition and our confidence will not drop,” said the opener.