Raina, Vijay maul their way to massive win
Suresh Raina and M Vijay absolutely mauled the hapless Wayamba attack, scoring 155 off 90 balls between them, which turned out to be 52 more than what their opponents managed in total. The flat SuperSport Park pitch, the short boundaries, and the lightning-quick outfield were made for the death of the bowlers. It didn't help that Wayamba indulged in some drunk-driving themselves: bowling too short, too full, or just too many gentle length deliveries. Raina and Vijay played the perfect Grim Reapers.
Every once in a while everything goes right for Vijay. The pitch doesn't have much lateral movement, the bowlers keep giving him length balls, and he looks a million dollars with his flicks, drives and half-pulls. Tonight seemed to be one of those million-dollar nights until Raina came and stole his thunder, scoring 87 off 44 in the 137-run stand over 12 overs.
Even as Matthew Hayden struggled to 10 off 18, Vijay had swaggered to 28 off 15 in the opening partnership. The lack of real pace and variety in the Wayamba attack allowed him to just clear the front leg, and either flick over the infield or play short-arm pulls. The fifth over of the innings, bowled by Chanaka Welegedara, that went for 23 started the glut. Apart from the usual Vijay hitting over midwicket, it included a remarkable four where he went deep into the crease, converted a yorker into a low full toss and flicked it past midwicket.
Raina joined Vijay at the end of Hayden's travails, and immediately it seemed the two were in a race. They matched each other shot for shot. If they were competing to see who jumped higher, the Wayamba attack was the trampoline getting punished. Vijay late-cut Thisara Perera for four, Raina drilled him straight. Raina hit an inside-out six off Perera, Vijay followed it with a loft over midwicket. Ninety-two for one at the halfway stage, and Raina was only just warming up.
Raina had worked harder of the two until then, including a desperate dive to prevent being run out. Still he had reached 22 off 15, and Vijay 47 off 28. Raina was now going to smash some, slog-sweeping spin, driving and hoicking medium-pace. Cuteness was not even required.
When Ajantha Mendis gave Raina a long hop at the start of the 17th over, the obvious six took him past Vijay's 63 off 43. That was just a promo, though, for Mendis: in that same over he hit the same grass bank thrice more: length ball, full toss, half-volley, all went. Like in a garage sale. They were going so fast the crowd on the grass banks didn't know whether to go for the catches or run for cover.
In the next over, Welegedara ran into some luck as Vijay and Raina holed out to back-to-back deliveries. Only 20 came in the last 2.2 overs. It seemed that the momentum might just swing. Mahela Jayawardene might have one of those nights. It was to be just a tease.
Under the pressure of the huge chase, Wayamba crumbled. By the fourth over, when Jayawardene upper-cut Doug Bollinger straight to friend and former team-mate Muttiah Muralitharan, only last rites were left.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo