It's not too often that Virender Sehwag, when he has scored hundred (and wow what a hundred!) gets overshadowed by another batsman – Sehwag when he is in the mood, is near unbeatable. However, on Friday in the IPL 2014 Qualifier 2 between the Kings XI Punjab and the Chennai Super Kings, one innings trumped that immaculate century, a blitz of an innings which just left you wanting more, but was brought to an abrupt end.
Suresh Raina is a batsman who has not quite fulfilled his potential. Labelled as the most talented batsman he has ever seen by former India coach Greg Chappell, a lot was expected from this left-hander from Uttar Pradesh.
But then expectations and talent never quite guarantee you success on the pitch, and while Raina has forged a good career in the limited-overs game, that Test match fallibility has just come back to haunt him time and again.
When Raina is in that unstoppable mood, though, there really are very few better things in cricket. Friday was such a day, when the CSK batsman was just plain brilliant. In his 87 from 25 balls, filled with 12 fours and six sixes, there was no slog, no "let's hope this makes some contact and goes past the fielder to the boundary" - it was calculated dissection of the Kings XI bowlers.
We have been privileged to see some brilliant innings in IPL 2014, with two of them coming in the last two days of the league phase. Sehwag gave us another stunner for the ages in the first innings on Friday; but none of them were quite as good as Raina's, with the only negative from that knock being that it came in a losing cause.
In isolation, though, without taking the results into account, the 87 from Raina was sheer brilliance. No matter where the KXIP bowlers bowled, it went to the boundary. Short, good length, outside off, yorker, onto the pads, they all ended with the same result, with the ball boy or the crowd throwing the ball back into the field.
Even the express pace of Mitchell Johnson, who expectedly bowled a bit of the short stuff, could do little to stop Raina on the night. It looked like one of those days when the only thing that was going to stop the left-hander from easing CSK to the target of 227 was a run out.
It was not just any run-of-the-mill run out, though, it was a run out right out of the top draw. A pick up on the run, a swivel and a blind throw on instinct at the stumps from George Bailey and that massacre of the Kings XI bowlers was brought to an end, the 100 runs scored in the Powerplay overs, with Raina scoring 87 of those, proving to be a mere aberration in the final scheme of things.
What an 87 it was, though, and even if it was not good enough to take his team over the line, it should go down as one of the all-time great IPL innings.
More of the same from Raina, when he captains India in the Bangladesh series, with the left-hander, hopefully, taking this form into the England ODI series as well, and then onto Australia and the World Cup.