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Chennai Super Kings, the champions of the Indian Premier League, moved closer to the 2010 Champions League title after thrashing the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 52 runs in a rain interrupted semi-final match that had to be reduced to 17 overs a side. Batting first, Chennai started off sluggishly before rain interrupted the match. On resumption, Suresh Raina decided to take charge and he played a mind-blowing innings, scoring 94 runs off just 48 deliveries to take Chennai to 174 at the end of their 17 overs. The revised target for Bangalore was 176 but the Royal Challengers didn't get the start they would have liked. Chennai's bowlers performed exceptionally well as a unit and didn't allow any partnerships to develop. Consequently, Bangalore never really looked to be in the chase and in the end they fell well short. Chennai will become the first IPL team to play the final of the Champions League when they take the field in a couple of days. They did everything right in the semi-final and they will hope that they can replicate their performance on Sunday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss for Chennai and decided to bat first. The Super Kings had Albie Morkel and Lakshmipathy Balaji returning to the playing XI, replacing Justin Kemp and Shadab Jakati respectively. Bangalore went in with the same side that had won them their last match against the Highveld Lions a few days ago.
Murali Vijay and Michael Hussey started watchfully for Chennai, avoiding any risks in the first couple of overs. The innings was only 2.5 overs old when rain forced the players back into the dressing room. After a delay of more than two and a half hours, the match finally got underway again. The game was reduced to 17 overs a side, five of which would be powerplay overs. Hussey and Vijay had no option but to come out and play their shots. Hussey (5) couldn't do much of that though and he fell while trying to loft Vinay Kumar over mid-off. Dale Steyn took a blinder, but he fell heavily on his head and had to be escorted back to the dressing room. And unfortunately for Bangalore, the injury was bad enough to keep him out of the game. Vijay managed to get a few boundaries with the field still up, took Chennai to 34 for 1 at the end of the powerplay.
Virat Kohli had to be brought on to bowl the overs which Steyn would have bowled otherwise. Raina saw the opportunity and made full use of it, hitting Kohli out of the park twice in the over. He didn't stop there and did the same to Dillon du Preez who was brought on in place of Kohli. Vijay, meanwhile, had survived a couple of close run-out opportunities. Luck was completely on his side as Balachandra Akhil dropped him in the outfield off the bowling of Du Preez. And to add insult to injury, he deposited the next delivery in the stands. Chennai reached a hundred mid-way through the 12th over and with 9 wickets in hand, a total in excess of 150 was very much on the cards. Bangalore's skipper, Anil Kumble was doing his bit with the ball and he managed to keep things tight at his end. Vijay's (41) luck finally ran out and he fell after getting a top edge off Vinay Kumar that was held onto by Kohli. Raina struck his fifth six on the very next delivery to reach his half-century off just 29 balls. Chennai were looking very good at 106 for 2 after 12 overs.
Kumble turned to Cameron White to fill in for Steyn. It didn't turn out to be a good move as Chennai got 13 runs White's over. Du Preez gave Bangalore something to smile about in the next over when he got one to disturb Dhoni's (11) woodwork. Kumble decide to come on and bowl his last over but this didn't turn out to be as good as his first spell. Raina picked up a couple of boundaries off the first two deliveries before sending the third one beyond the ropes. In all, 19 runs came off the over, the same number of runs that Kumble had conceded in his first three overs put together. Chennai had already gone past 150 and they still had a couple more overs to go. Vinay Kumar bowled a decent 16th over under the circumstances, giving away just 9 runs. Kumble was in a fix regarding who to turn to for the final over and in the end he had no choice but to go for White. Raina picked up boundaries off the first two deliveries but the bowler came back well and got Morkel (5) to top-edge one up in the air. Kohli came around and took the catch but unfortunately for Bangalore, he too ended up hurting himself in the process and had to leave the field. Raina signed off with a boundary off the last ball to take Chennai to 174 for 4 at the end of 17 overs.
Raina was the star off the innings and he remained unbeaten on 94. The Duckworth Lewis method came into action as the match had been reduced to 17 overs after Chennai's innings had started. After the calculations, the target set for Bangalore was 176 and considering the bowling line-up Chennai had, it was not going to be easy.
Chennai didn't have to wait long for the first wicket as Doug Bollinger got Rahul Dravid caught at mid-off for a first ball duck in the second over. And if that was not bad enough for Bangalore, they lost Robin Uthappa (4) and Ross Taylor (4) to top-edges in the next couple of overs. Morkel and Bollinger picked up the wickets with Vijay being the fielder on both the occasions. Manish Pandey and Kohli managed to get a boundary each towards the end of the powerplay overs to take Bangalore to 26 for 3 at the end of the first five overs.
Balaji came on immediately after the fielding restrictions had been lifted. He needed just nine deliveries to strike, getting Kohli (14) caught by Ravichandran Ashwin running in from deep mid-wicket. When White walked in, Bangalore needed to score at almost 15 runs an over to win the match. He was quiet for a while before hitting Muttiah Muralitharan into the stands. He tried to go for a second six but couldn't get all of it and Anirudh Srikanth took a very good catch running in from the deep. Pandey, meanwhile, had consumed quite a few deliveries and he was scoring at less than a run-a-ball. He improved that to some degree when smashed Ashwin, who had been quite economical thus far, for a boundary and a six off consecutive deliveries. But Bangalore suffered another setback later in the over when a slight hesitation between the batsmen led to the dismissal of Du Preez (1). At 84 for 6 after 12 overs, Bangalore looked to be out of the race.
Pandey and Praveen Kumar struck a few hefty blows, trying to take Bangalore closer to the target. Praveen took Bangalore past 100 with a boundary in the 14th over and Pandey brought up his half century soon after. Pandey (52) couldn't carry on any further as Bollinger made a mess of his stumps with a low full-toss. Praveen (15) smashed Muralitharan into the stands but he was caught at cover off a leading edge on the last delivery of Muralitharan's spell. Vinay Kumar got one out of the middle that sailed over the ropes, but the bowler, Ashwin, had the last laugh as Vinay smashed the next delivery straight down the throat of deep mid-wicket. With Steyn being unable to bat, Bangalore's innings had wrapped up for 123 in 16.2 overs.
Suresh Raina was the obvious choice for the man-of-the-match award. His breathtaking knock gave Chennai's bowlers a huge target to defend. Bangalore needed a partnership to lay down the platform for the top order failed to deliver. The injury to Steyn was a critical factor, as his presence could well have made a difference of 10-20 runs. Chennai will be very pleased with such a convincing win in the semis. They have a day's rest before the final on Sunday, the 26th of September against the winner of the second semi-final that will be played tomorrow (Saturday), between the Chevrolet Warriors and South Australia Redbacks. Bangalore will be extremely disappointed at losing out at this stage. Luck wasn't completely in their favour though. They lost Jacques Kallis in the middle of the tournament and Steyn could take the field for only 3.5 overs in the semi-final. This was probably the last match for this set of players in Bangalore's colours. The players will be auctioned again for the 2011 edition of the Indian Premier League and its highly unlikely that each of these players will return to Bangalore.
Chennai Super Kings: Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt. & wk), Albie Morkel, Subramaniam Badrinath, Anirudh Srikanth, Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipati Balaji, Muttiah Muralitharan, Doug Bollinger
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Manish Pandey, Rahul Dravid, Robin Uthappa (wk), Ross Taylor, Virat Kohli, Cameron White, Dillon du Preez, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Anil Kumble (capt.), Dale Steyn
Chennai Super Kings 174 for 4 (17 overs, 10.23 rpo)
S Raina 94* (48) R Vinay Kumar 2-28
M Vijay 41 (32) C White 1-26
Royal Challengers Bangalore 123 for 9 (16.2 overs, 7.53 rpo)
M Pandey 52 (44) D Bollinger 3-27
P Kumar 15 (11) M Muralitharan 2-38
File Photograph Copyright: Michael Henn
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