It will be a battle of nerves: Raina

On Sunday, May 24, Chennai Super Kings will take the field at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata to play their sixth IPL final. Their opponents, the Mumbai Indians, have come from behind to make the final after four straight losses to start their campaign this season.

Speaking on the eve of the Pepsi IPL 2015 grand finale, CSK’s most experienced player, Suresh Raina, stressed on the importance of bringing their ‘A game’ to the park to beat a strong and in-form MI outfit.

“When you know you are playing against the Mumbai Indians, you have to play very good cricket,” Raina said. “They have done really well in Kolkata. I still remember when we lost against them in the IPL 2013 final. We need to play really well against Mumbai Indians.”
According to Raina the quality that will determine the result of the game between the two tightly matched teams is the ability to soak in the pressure and having fun while doing so.

“There is going to be pressure but you need to play on your merit and work hard on your game. I think whichever team gets nervous will lose the battle,” he said.

Raina was effusive in his praise for the CSK bowling attack, led by Ashish Nehra, for winning them tight games throughout the tournament. “We have done really well in our bowling department. Ashish Nehra has been amazing; he has been bowling and executing the plans really well.

Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Pawan Negi, R Ashwin have all chipped in and have bowled well,” he said.

On the Eden wicket, Raina said that it is imperative to start well with the bat in order to ensure a big score even as the wicket slows down later in the innings.

“In Kolkata you have to make one big really good point to yourself and that is to go there, bat really well in the first six overs,” he said. “Then you have to bat sensibly from the eighth to twelfth over.

“MI have good spinners in Harbhajan Singh and J Suchith who have been bowling really well. The wicket gets slow here. After seven or ten overs you need to bat sensibly against them. So, if you have a good powerplay, you can get a good total later on.”

While Raina conceded that the toss will matter in a big game like this, its importance does not outweigh that of playing with a positive mindset. “I think in a game like the final, the toss does make a difference but at the same time we need to play positive cricket. We can’t worry about the toss and about whoever is batting first or defending the target.

“We just need to enjoy the forty overs. That is the thing we have done in the past. I have learnt from a lot of coaches, especially Stephen Fleming, who has been working really hard with a lot of Indian players, having one-on-one meeting with everyone. I think you just need to enjoy each and every ball, just go there and express yourself.”

And then, he said, there is of course the MS Dhoni factor adding strength to the Super Kings. “When you know MS Dhoni is there – he is the most consistent captain and is the reason we have been in most finals over the last eight years – you have the advantage.”
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