One looked forward to Matthew Hayden’s battle with Shane Warne the other night. Both understand each other; both are warily respectful of each other’s strengths and their tussle, classic in its own way, brought it out. Warne brought himself on early as he realised Hayden held the key to Chennai’s chase. Hayden didn’t want to be shackled and the resultant battle of wits was engrossing. One actually saw Hayden reverse sweep, a shot I particularly don’t remember him play, as his brute strength normally is enough to make a mess of any line or length, spin or pace. Warne got him stumped off a wide, which was unusual in its own way.
These two Australian giants, now well into retirement, have lit this second season of IPL. Haydos is so consistent and dominating, the best bat by a mile in this competition, that it’s difficult to believe he actually hasn’t played competitive cricket for a year now. The same is true of Warne who, despite the heroics of Yusuf Pathan, must be the only reason why the Rajasthan Royals are punching much above their weight. Their ferocity is a tribute to their competitive streaks. They aren’t here to earn some cheap bucks.
The same is true for Brett Lee. He played his first match and was the reason why the Kings XI Punjab crossed the winning line. On a bland Kimberly track, Lee excelled with his slower deliveries. Indeed, most of his deliveries were slower ones and beat the batsmen for timing. He probably has the best slow bouncer in the game and even former teammates like Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds were not up to it.
His six in the penultimate over sealed the game for his side. Three champion cricketers, two having hung their boots and the other hoping to reclaim his berth in the national side, made it a fascinating on Saturday. Another foreign cricketer, this time a Sri Lankan, deserves a mention. Mahela Jayawardene batted brilliantly.