Raina ton makes it seven in seven for Chennai
Chennai Super Kings 186 for 4 (Raina 100*, Hussey 35) beat Kings XI Punjab 171 for 6 (Marsh 73, Miller 51, Bravo 3-34) by 15 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
With 92 IPL games to his name, Suresh Raina, even more than MS Dhoni, is the tournament's most experienced campaigner. A vital part of the Chennai Super Kings line-up, retained by his franchise after the first three seasons, he's been key to several of his team's successes and, on Thursday, he smashed his first IPL century in another victory - the seventh straight one for Super Kings this year. Shaun Marsh and David Miller middled the ball superbly in the chase and brought the equation down to 19 off the final over, but Dwayne Bravo didn't let his team down.
Raina's yellow jersey had a brownish shade by the time he reached the landmark, his aggression not only confined to targeting the bowlers. If there's an Indian batsman after the Mohammad Kaif of almost a decade ago who inflicts as much damage on his clothing while running between the wickets as he does while fielding, it's Raina.
Raina's innings had its sedate phase, when it kept pace with Super Kings' start, with a run-rate of just a little over six in the first nine overs. In the unforgiving Chennai heat, with not a speck of cloud in the sky, nor any breeze in the air, there was a back-massage for Raina from one of his team-mates, his head was wrapped up in a wet towel, his partner Michael Hussey was on his knees, and both were gulping down fluids during the time-out. Albie Morkel even tweeted: "Maybe they must reconsider 4pm games in chennai. My word someone will die soon.!" The massage certainly helped re-energize Raina, as he transformed his game after having moved to 14 off 15 balls at that point.
The first ball he faced after the break, he drove David Hussey beautifully through deep cover and long-off before launching him over long-on for six. At the other end, Michael Hussey went past Chris Gayle to become the highest run-getter this season but was stumped 55 runs into the partnership. Raina lost Dhoni, run-out brilliantly by R Sathish in the 13th over, but he had made up his mind to be on the attack. He slog-swept Chawla with the turn, clipped Sathish past fine leg, and stepped up another notch after the second time-out, which was taken at the end of the 15th over.
Six seasons into the IPL, death bowling has continued to be a worry for most teams, whose Indian bowlers, especially, have struggled to contain the batsmen. Attempted yorkers, almost inevitably, end up being length balls; Raina struck Manpreet Gony imperiously over the straight boundary off two such deliveries.
Sathish was then cut and swept, Praveen Kumar was dispatched over long-on twice, the second six coming in the final over during which Raina reached his century. Through his assault, he ran superbly, though was fortunate to have just made his ground as he attempted a dive to complete a run very early in his innings, the bat popping up as he tried to slide it in. The last five overs yielded 70 runs, also thanks to Albie Morkel's cameo of 23.
Kings XI Punjab had a similar start to their chase, reaching the halfway mark at 65 for 2. But Marsh and Miller gave Super Kings a serious scare, their combined acceleration beginning, incidentally, in the 12th over from Raina that went for 19. Both cleared the boundaries comfortably during their half-centuries - they put on 95 in 52 balls - and still had an outside chance with 19 needed off six. Marsh, however, was bowled off the first ball by Bravo while trying to dispatch a full ball, and the task was beyond even Miller from there on as he faced just two more deliveries.
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo