Chennai juggernaut remains on course

Raina's ton sets up record-equalling seventh successive win for the Super Kings.

Super southpaw Suresh Raina starred on Thursday night.

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Suresh Raina resumed his love affair with Chepauk on Thursday night as Chennai Super Kings equaled Royal Challengers Bangalore's record of seven successive IPL wins with a thrilling triumph over Kings XI Punjab.

Raina's 53-ball, unbeaten 100 ultimately prevailed over the late counter-attack by lefties Shaun Marsh (73, 51b) and David Miller (51*, 26b) that took Punjab to the doorstep of what might have been a famous chase. But the pair, having united for 95 in just 8.4 overs, ran out of ideas with the visitors needing 19 off the last over, bowled by Dwayne Bravo.

Tight over

Bravo bowled Marsh on the first ball, and the new man Gurkeerat Singh holed out on the following delivery, the matter decided for all practical purposes when the West Indian all-rounder picked up another one by bowling R. Sathish. Chennai thus defended by 15 runs the formidable 187 they had accumulated batting first, a total build around Raina's three-figure fulcrum.

Raina hit his straps just in time for the business half of the competition with a blistering hundred, in an innings where the second-highest score was Michael Hussey’s 35, which took the Aussie to the top of the run charts again. But it was the Indian southpaw who stole the show.

Raina hits out

Raina came in at the fall of Wriddhiman Saha and was merciless against the smorgasbord of  bowling available for consumption. A majority of his six sixes came against the pacers – Manpreet Gony and Praveen Kumar were both hit disdainfully back over their heads – and the spinners, leggie Piyush Chawla especially, were smashed through the leg-side.

It was a rare failure for Chennai’s captain MS Dhoni, who was run-out for two soon after Hussey was stumped off Chawla, but Raina rained hits on the park without cessation. The Ghaziabad lad reached three figures in the last over, in just 53 balls, and powered Chennai to a total that proved beyond the reach of Marsh’s and Miller’s dramatic counter-attack.