Mumbai: Chennai Super Kings batsman Suresh Raina, who cracked an unbeaten 33-ball 54 to help Chennai Super Kings book a berth in the second IPL qualifier, credited the bowlers for curtailing Mumbai Indians and setting the tone for the run chase.
After a great start, Mumbai Indians lost wickets in the middle and eventually could post 173 for eight. "We bowled really well, especially Ashish Nehra, Ishwar (Pandey), (Ravichandran) Ashwin, (Ravindra) Jadeja. I thought they are going to score 200 but in between (Kieron) Pollard, (Lendl) Simmons and Rohit (Sharma) got out. I think they (bowlers) set the tone for us," Raina said at the post match conference after Chennai's seven-wicket win over Mumbai at the Brabourne Stadium on Wednesday night.
Chennai comfortably chased down the target with eight balls to spare as Suresh Raina (54 not out) and David Hussey (40 not out) shared an unbeaten 89-run stand for the fourth wicket. "Me and (David) Hussey, we batted really well. Faf (du Plessis) and (Dwayne) Smith had a very good partnership in the starting overs. That is why we won the game," he said.
The 27-year old said his team would be looking to give its best against Kings XI Punjab in the second qualifier to make the finals. "I think it was a good win (last night) but still we need to play really well against Kings XI Punjab and hopefully we will do well against them," he said.
The Uttar Pradesh cricketer, who is the only one to score 400 runs in every IPL season, said he has learnt a lot playing alongside former Australian greats Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden, and from his Chennai coach Stephen Fleming. "In batting, you have to keep improving your shots. You have to execute really well. At the same time you need to back your strength. I think over the years, I have learnt a lot from Michael Hussey, Matthew Hayden, Stephen Fleming. I have played with them in the last seven years," he said.
Heaping praise on his India as well as Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Raina said, "I have played with MS also. He is the one guy who is a great finisher in the world. When you know you have a great bunch of players in your team then you tend to learn a lot of good things from the big players."
Smith and Faf du Plessis had provided a blazing start to Chennai's run chase, scoring nearly 10 an over. Asked about persisting with the South African cricketer at the top slot instead of regular opener Brendon McCullum, who returned to the side after the birth of his child, Raina said it was a master strategy from Fleming.
"I think that was the masterstroke from Flem (Fleming). Faf was batting really well in the last two-three games. Today also he was hitting the ball really well. Baz (McCullum), I think is one of the best openers we have in the dressing room. But that plan really worked for us and hopefully we do well against Kings XI Punjab and KKR (who are already in the final)," he said.
Chennai lost three quick wickets after a rousing start, and left-hand batsman said he was prepared to bat till the end. "I only thought that we have to win the match. I knew I had to bat till the end because the wicket was good for batting. The ball was spinning but I batted in my areas -- cover, mid-wicket. Running between the wickets was also crucial and we did that very well," said Raina....