Raina hundred destroys Proteas

India score second straight victory; SA in must-win game against Afghanistan

Raina hundred destroys Proteas

But by the time Raina was finished with his job, he had brought the high-flying South African bowlers down to their knees. The Uttar Pradesh batsman brought up his and India’s maiden Twenty20 international century, becoming only the third batsman in the world to do so.

Raina’s 60-ball 103 (9x4, 5x6) was the cornerstone of India’s imposing 186 for five. South Africa, tied down by the multi-pronged spin attack, could manage only 172 for five to suffer a 14-run defeat here on Sunday as India rounded off their Group C campaign with twin wins. SA must win their last match against Afghanistan to enter the second stage.
The pitch was admittedly on the slower side, but the South African chase was even slower. They showed little urgency and took hardly any risks as the asking rate kept mounting. Anyone who has witnessed Jacques Kallis’ play in the latter half of the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s campaign in the IPL III wouldn’t have been surprised by his go-slow approach.

Saddled as they were with almost 10 runs to score per over at the beginning of their innings, South Africa reached a point of no return when the required run rate jumped to over 13 half-way through their chase. Though Kallis 73 (54b, 3x4, 3x6) and Graeme Smith (36, 28b, 1x4, 2x6) threatened to pull it off, it was clear that they had left the charge too late.

AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel’s fireworks towards the end could create no more than an artificial excitement. After surviving a terrible mix-up with his Tamil Nadu State-mate Dinesh Kaarthick, Vijay failed to make the most of the let-off. Kaarthick, a replacement for a dehydrated Gautam Gambhir, too appeared brittle as the Indian innings struggled to gain momentum, and Smith might have had a quiet chuckle at his decision to insert his rivals.

On a slow pitch and a slower outfield, runs were coming at a premium and Kaarthick in an effort to up the scoring rate fell to Kallis. The fall heralded the coming together of two left-handers of class, Yuvraj Singh and Raina.

While Raina, leave aside his struggle at the start, had loads of confidence coming into the tournament, Yuvraj had very less of it. He had had a decent outing against Afghanistan on Saturday, but against South Africa it was going to be different ball game.
The Punjab batsman did show an encouraging return to form during his 30-ball 37, but it was Raina who was the show stopper. After raising a valuable 88 runs with Yuvraj, the 23-year-old went hammer and tongs and runs came at a torrent. With the ball taking an eternity to reach the fence on a sluggish outfield, he took the aerial route and derived handsome dividends for his ploy.

While his first half-century came off 41 balls, his next fifty arrived in just 18 balls as he toyed with virtually every bowler in sight. Rory Klienveldt, who was tidy and among the wickets in his first spell, felt the heat when he was taken for 25 runs in his last over, Raina scoring 18 of them.

Raina thus joined West Indies skipper Chris Gayle (117 against South Africa in 2007) and New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum (116 against Australia early this year) as the only T20 international centurions.

Only 67 runs had come in the first 10 overs, while the next 10 yielded 119 including a whopping 75 off the last five as Dhoni joined in the party with a little cameo (16 off 6).

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