Sunday, May 2, 2010

Raina powers India into Super Eights

A superb ton by Suresh Raina powered India to a 14-run victory over South Africa to become the first team to qualify for the Super Eight stage of the ICC World Twenty20.

Raina became the first Indian and the third player in the world after Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum to make a T20 international hundred. The southpaw smashed nine boundaries and five sixes to take India to 186-5. After a slow start to their chase, the Proteas gave India a tough fight at the end as they scored 172-5.

Murali Vijay (0) and Dinesh Karthik (16), who replaced Gambhir, perished early as Indian batsmen struggled against the South Africa pace quartet of Rory Kleinveldt, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Albie Morkel.

India were in the woods at 32 for two in the sixth over, before Raina (101) and Yuvraj Singh (37) reconstructed the staggering innings. Raina had an escape on five when he was caught off a Morne Morkel no-ball. It was an expensive error by the fast bowler, with left-hander Raina launching a blistering assault as he reached his century off 59 balls. Together with Yuvraj Singh (37) he shared a stand of 88 in 10 overs.

India accelerated in the ninth over when Yuvraj swept spinner Roelof van der Merwe for the first six of the match and, two balls later, Raina lofted all-rounder Kallis high over wide long-on. Both batsmen were severe on fast bowler Rory Kleinveldt, whose four overs cost 48 runs.

India took 25 runs off Kleinveldt's last over, the 18th, with Yusuf Pathan hitting the first ball for six and then taking a single. Raina then struck three fours in a row, over long-on, through extra-cover and straight down the ground, before the batsman completed the over with a majestic six, struck off one knee and high over long-off.

Come the last over, Raina was on 95 and Dhoni was facing. But when he got on strike, for the third ball, Raina wasted little time in completing his hundred with a six over midwicket off Albie Morkel before getting out next ball. This was only the 23-year-old Raina's 13th Twenty20 international and his score easily eclipsed his previous best of 61 not out against New Zealand in Christchurch last year.

Dhoni ended the innings with a six as India scored a mammoth 75 runs off the last five overs.
South Africa started the chase on a cautious note losing the wicket of Loots Bosman early. Jacques Kallis (73) and Graeme Smith (36) then steadied the innings before taking the attack to the Indian bowlers. But the effort came a bit too late to help the South African cause.

Ashish Nehra was pick of the Indian bowlers as he conceded only 27 runs and picked up the wicket of AB de Villiers.

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