Bhuvneshwar Kumar to Suresh Raina
, 0.5 overs. Bhuvneshwar pitched the ball up and watched it curve away from the left-hander. The bowler never found out how far the ball might have swung, for Raina's bat came down in a speedy flourish to redirect it wide of mid-off.
It was more than a pretty-looking shot given the context of the bowler's previous delivery. Bhuvneshwar, savouring the throwback to his dizzying early days, shot down the stumps of Aaron 'can't-score-less-than-50' Finch with a swerving inducker.
Raina's stately drive, then, forced Bhuvneshwar to shift away from his strong suit and bowl short. At the other end, Barinder Sran was serving up gifts to Raina on the leg side, while Bhuvneshwar was driven straight and through the leg side for a brace of fours. The Gujarat Lions captain went from 21 off 11 balls after the third over to 33 off 18 at the completion of the Powerplay.
This was the Raina who had gone missing for a while - prior to this knock of 75, he hadn't scored a fifty in his last 30 T20 innings and none this year. The Chennai Super Kings faithful may even teared up a little, for this was precisely what Raina did so often, and so well, in yellow.
At 50 for 1 in six overs, a glitzy stage was set for the exuberant song-and-dance routine that is his T20 batting at its best. But this was to be a more sober act - an intense monologue, if you will. He lost Brendon McCullum, his fellow happy-go-lucky basher, soon after the Powerplay. Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo seemed like bit-part actors who fluffed their lines and exited the scene. Raina, though, made up for the slip-ups with the heft of his performance.
It was in some ways an un-Raina innings, and yet it wasn't He found the gaps with ease when his team-mates were struggling to get the ball off the square - his dot-ball percentage was 13.7% (7 out of 51 balls) against the team's 31.7% (38/120) - but there were none of his characteristic grand sixes. The long square boundaries had made sixes a low-percentage option, as Bravo discovered, but fours were enough for Raina. In the eighth over, he shimmied down and lofted the ball wide of long-on with enough force to make a mockery of David Warner's frantic pursuit.
There were dabs, cuts and push-drives for ones and twos - 39 of his 75 runs came in this manner - as he remained unaffected by fancy slower deliveries. He even held his own against the tricky Mustafizur Rahman. In fact, Raina carted a back-of-the-hand delivery from Sran through midwicket by holding the trigger just a little longer. There were very few balls he did not middle, and one of those claimed his wicket in the last over. Bhuvneshwar later said the difference between Raina and the other batsmen lay in how he never stagnated, employing busy running when boundaries dried up.
Raina's imagination with the bat, however, did not rub on to his captaincy. A target of 136, while inadequate - Lions legspinner Pravin Tambe rued the absence of a power-hitter like James Faulkner - could have been slippery on a slow pitch. But there were a few puzzling tactics, like the decision to persist with Praveen Kumar in the Powerplay.
After an erratic 13-run first over, that included two wide deliveries down the leg side - one of which went to the boundary for an extra four runs - Raina stayed the course with Praveen for an additional over only to see him carted by Warner for another 18 runs. By the end of six overs, Warner and Shikhar Dhawan had knocked 63 runs off the target and the game was effectively lost.
More baffling was the decision to hold back Ravindra Jadeja till the 11th over, by which time Sunrisers were 40 runs shy of the target. Raina, possibly looking to replicate his batting success, even gave himself a couple of overs. After conceding 10 runs in the first over, he did a better job in the second, eliciting a sharp edge off Warner that ricocheted off Karthik's gloves for a single. It was a reflection of the kind of day Raina had.
He looked spent, offered his bowlers the odd shabaash but there was no real tactical shake-up. His team-mates, too, had not given him much to work with. It was Raina's day and yet, in the final scheme of things, it wasn't.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun