Raina's century powers India to 185 for five

Raina's century powers India to 185 for five

Suresh Raina bats during the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match with South Africa in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, on Sunday. (AP Photo)

Raina is only third batsman to score a hundred in T20 internationals with the first two centuries coming from the bats of West Indies' Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum of New Zealand.

Going into the game without an indisposed Gautam Gambhir and a 'rested' Zaheer Khan, India were in the woods at 32 for two in the sixth over, before Raina (101) and Yuvraj Singh (37) reconstructed the staggering innings.

Murali Vijay (0) and Dinesh Karthik (16), who replaced Gambhir, perished early as Indian batsmen struggled against the South Africa pace quartet of Rory Kleinveldt, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Albie Morkel.

The score card read a frugal 56 for two from nine overs. An Indian surrender seemed imminent but Raina and Yuvraj rose to the challenge, smashing the ball around the park, occasionally scattering the crowd in the mid-wicket stands with huge sixes.

If the tri-colour Indian supporters were crestfallen in the first half of the innings, they were on their toes as the two left handers cut loose at the square.

Diminutive Raina may be, but he matched his senior partners' power, clearing the pickets with effortless ease. He hit clean and hard and found the gaps in the outfield with uncanny precision.

The third-wicket pair had raised 88 runs when Yuvaraj, who had struck three fours and two sixes in his 30-ball 37, was snared by Graeme Smith off Rory Kleinveldt.

Raina stepped on the gas pedal during his brief association with Yusuf Pathan, accounting for 18 of the 25 runs that Kleinvedlt conceded in the 18th over. He hit the Proteas bowler for three fours and a six in that over.

He lofted Albie Morkel over mid-wicket to complete his superb century and got out next ball.

Raina, who has been in ominous form since IPL, also rode on his luck as he was caught off a no ball early in his innings and also survived a couple of run out chances.

Before getting out he hit nine fours and five sixes in his 60-ball knock. Skipper MS Dhoni finished the innings in style hitting six in the last ball.

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