Suresh Raina made a timely return to form with an unbeaten 59-ball 126, as Uttar Pradesh crushed Bengal by 75 runs in their opening Super League fixture in Kolkata. Raina's fourth T20 hundred comes after a dry spell that had him go without a half-century for more than 10 innings across formats. His knock included 13 fours and seven sixes and propelled Uttar Pradesh to 235 for 3. With a retainership of INR 11 crore, Raina was one of the three players held on to by Chennai Super Kings ahead of the IPL auction.
Raina found his major ally in Akshdeep Nath, who smashed 80 off 43 balls including seven fours and four sixes. Nath, who also played under Raina for Gujarat Lions in the IPL, shared a 163-run partnership with him for the third wicket. He has set his base price at INR 20 lakh ahead of the auction on January 27 and 28.
While Raina and Nath starred with the bat, it was Kuldeep Yadav who put the skids on Bengal with the ball. He finished with figures of 4 for 26, accounting for the wickets of Shreevats Goswami, Sudip Chatterjee, Pramod Chandila and Anustup Majumdar. The 23-year-old left-arm wristspinner has enjoyed a good run with Kolkata Knight Riders in the past, and has subsequently enjoyed a good season with the national side. Kuldeep has set his base price at INR 1.5 crore, and is expected to be one of the major spinning picks at the auction.
Meanwhile, Bengal didn't bat their full quota of overs as they folded for 160 in 16.1 overs. Only Goswami, who made 57 off 28 balls, and Sudip (36 off 25) made substantial contributions. With the ball, seamer Ashok Dinda took one wicket for 29 runs.