The run feast at Wankhede Stadium on Friday night was an enthralling and memorable experience for those present.
First it was Virender Sehwag, who slammed the fastest century (50 balls) of the Indian Premier League-7 as Kings XI Punjab posted a mammoth 226-6 after put into bat by Chennai Super Kings. And then it was Suresh Raina’s turn to showcase some incredible power-hitting as he raced to the second fastest half-century (16 balls) of the tournament.
Punjab managed to restrict high-flying Chennai to 202-7 as they stormed into their maiden final with a 24-run win in the Qualifier 2. Preity Zinta’s team will meet Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders in the June 1 title clash at Bangalore.
The joy of getting opener Faf du Plessis (0) early was short lived for Punjab as Raina was in no mood to show any mercy. The southpaw clobbered Parvinder Awana for 33 runs – the highest in an over in IPL-7 so far. The sequence (6, 6, 4, 4, 4nb, 4, 4) read like a telephone number when seven-digit numbers were in existence. By the time the powerplay was over, Chennai were cruising at 100-2 in six overs with Raina on 87.
Kings XI Punjab celebrates the fall of David Hussey's wicket during Qualifier 2 tie at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. PIC/ SURESH K.K.
Raina’s masterclass came to an end after Punjab skipper George Bailey’s direct hit from cover had the Uttar Pradesh lad short of his crease.
Punjab came back into the game with three wickets (Brendon McCullum, Ravindra Jadeja and David Hussey) in two runs. From there on, it was one-way traffic with Punjab providing minimum scope for CSK to stage a comeback.
Earlier, Sehwag and Manan Vohra made their intentions clear when they smashed a four each to take 10 runs off the first over.
The Nawab of Najafgarh cut and pulled like vintage Viru. Sehwag was particularly brutal against his Delhi statemate Ashish Nehra in the beginning. He slammed him for 24 runs in his first two overs and continued the same treatment when he returned for his third over. Although Nehra claimed two wickets, he was the most expensive CSK bowler, conceding 51 runs in his four overs.
Glenn Maxwell received a huge cheer when Vohra holed out at midwicket to medium-pacer Ishwar Pandey on 34. Soon R Ashwin was back in the attack as a mouthwatering battle between the duo was expected. Ashwin did well to comeback after Maxwell hit him for a six over long-on. Trying to clobber one through mid-wicket, the Australian was caught by Raina for 13. A pumped up Ashwin blew a flying kiss to Maxwell, who seemed unimpressed.
It was time to shift the focus back on Sehwag as the crowd waited with bated breath for his first IPL-7 ton. A gentle push towards mid-off made the incredible possible as Sehwag became only the second Indian batsman after Murali Vijay to score two tons in IPL.
However, in the end it was Nehra who ended Sehwag’s special show when Faf du Plessis took a well-judged running catch in the covers. A standing ovation was only apt for a thoroughly entertaining knock.