Shane Warne’s verbal callisthenics went for a toss on Monday as Virender Sehwag played a blinder to sculpt a six-wicket defeat for Rajasthan Royals. The Delhi opener decimated the Royals’ attack, including the much-touted Shaun Tait, to score a brilliant 34-ball 75.
With Monday’s drubbing, the Royals’ conceded their first home defeat after seven straight wins in IPL-I. Shane Warne can no longer compare a match in a home ground to an impregnable "fortress".
The atmosphere was electric in and around the Sardar Patel Stadium as early as 4pm. And just as the sun sunk, the decibel level soared in a clear indication that Ahmedabad was ready for the local team to maintain its streak at ‘home’.
But the thrill changed into shock after Sehwag’s onslaught. The Delhi opener carted the Royals’ bowlers to all parts of the ground. And just as he picked the tempo, the crowd couldn’t resist cheering. Surely, the India tag far outweighs any loyalty to IPL teams. Sehwag raced to his 50 in 21 deliveries and just as the Daredevils were nearing 100, Smith took a brilliant running catch to get rid of the danger man.
Earlier, the Royals’ struggled to post a fighting total after being sent in by Gautam Gambhir. Swapnil Asnodkar was rather unlucky when his wafting willow found an ever-agile Tillakaratne Dilshan at backward point. It was the second time in as many games that Asnodkar failed to give the Royals a good start. Graeme Smith pushed and nudged, but even before the score could swell, Amit Mishra castled Naman Ojha with a peach of a delivery. The crowd was, of course, waiting for Yusuf Pathan and with him around there was always hope.
But the Baroda bomber played rather recklessly and perished for a duck trying to launch an early assault.
Finally, a 60-run stand between Paras Dogra and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala dragged the team to a score of 141 in the allotted overs.
Surely, it was not a tall score against a power-packed Daredevils line-up, and especially with Sehwag in such splendid form.