Raina century leads CSK to title
Chennai Super Kings 185 for 2 (Raina 109*, McCullum 39) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 180 for 6 (Gambhir 80, Uthappa 39, Negi 5-22) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Suresh Raina bossed a Kolkata Knight Riders attack without the banned Sunil Narine for his third T20 century to lead Chennai Super Kings to their second Champions League T20 title. Raina's relentless hitting, especially against spin, made light of a target of 181, which was built on the back of Gautam Gambhir's 80. Knight Riders looked good for around 200 after a 91-run opening partnership but left-arm spinner Pawan Negi's 5 for 22 held them back. Given the way Raina blasted six after six, even 200 might not have been enough. The defeat also halted IPL champions Knight Riders' winning streak at 14, an Indian record and second only to Sialkot Stallions.
Super Kings lost Dwayne Smith in the first over of the chase and it was all Raina after that. Almost everything Raina attempted came off. The drives raced in the gaps through the off side. The pulls disappeared behind square. The strike was turned over as if on autopilot.
But it was the sixes that stood out. Raina stepped out and lofted Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav for six straight sixes. Nearly every time he left the crease, Raina deposited the ball over the boundary.
He survived a stumping chance off Kuldeep on 78 and the bowler Yusuf Pathan put down a difficult, diving chance when Raina was on 88. But both those chances came after Raina had snatched the game from Knight Riders' grasp.
Knight Riders' spinners, led by the absent Narine, had been instrumental in their march to the final but Raina never allowed them to settle down. Kuldeep, Chawla, Suryakumar Yadav and Yusuf went for a collective 1 for 137 in 13.3 overs.
Raina's hundred came off 59 balls, and he put on 118 with Brendon McCullum in 12.2 overs. The New Zealand captain was not in great touch, but swept his way to a vital 39 off 30.
MS Dhoni promoted himself and hit the winning runs, but his more vital contribution had come earlier, when he won the toss and chose to field. With the dew starting to come down and both captains understandably wanting to chase. Dhoni had said at the toss that the pitch looked better than previous Bangalore surfaces in the tournament. It proved to be a nice batting surface, and only got better for the batsmen as the bowlers progressively lost bite with the dew.
Gambhir and Robin Uthappa put on 91 in under 11 overs. Uthappa's timing was terrific yet again but Gambhir stepped up after having had a lean tournament. Pulling, cutting, steering and slogging boundaries, Gambhir raced to 80 off 52 before holing out off Ravindra Jadeja in the 17th over.
Negi, playing only his second match of the tournament, had already removed Uthappa and Jacques Kallis in successive overs, deceiving both with plenty of flight and turn. With Dwayne Bravo taken for 18 runs in the 16th over and Ashish Nehra going for 20 in the 18th, Dhoni handed the 19th to Negi with R Ashwin and Mohit Sharma having an over left each.
Negi gave away two runs, including a wide, in the over, and took out Manish Pandey, Ryan ten Doeshcate and Suryakumar. Yusuf took 19 more off Nehra in the 20th to make it 62 off the last five, but Raina was unstoppable in the night.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo