The IPL is an entertainment package based on the game of cricket. But when you watch an innings like the one Yusuf Pathan played on Saturday, there’s nothing to talk about but the game itself.
Shane Warne glorifies the achievements of his team-mates, especially those by domestic cricketers, to extract the best from them consistently. But the 20,000-odd who watched Yusuf's 37-ball 100 at the Brabourne Stadium, and millions who saw it on TV on a Saturday evening will, at least for a while, not say that the blond leggie was exaggerating as usual.
“This was the best knock I have seen,” said Warne of Yusuf's effort, which was the fastest century in the IPL and the second-fastest in all Twenty20 ties so far. It may have come in a losing effort, as Mumbai Indians scraped home by four runs, but the innings will surely go down as one of the best exhibitions of power hitting. When the burly Pathan came in to bat, the Royals were stuttering at 40 for three in 6.3 overs, chasing a mammoth 213. But his scarcely believable effort, which included nine boundaries and eight towering sixes, not only made Royals’ co-owner Shilpa Shetty dance to his tunes but also added extra josh to even the dhol-tasha (traditional drum) players who enthralled the spectators all through the match.
Sixty-four balls hence, when Yusuf took the long walk back to the dug-out, thanks to a piece of brilliance by Mumbai Indians’ R Sathish, the Royals could smell victory, needing 39 off 17 balls. No wonder the loudest roar of the day was heard not after Malinga bowled the last ball but when Yusuf was adjudged run out — probably the only way he could have been dismissed on his day.