Shane Warne, Jaipur’s inspirational skipper, in a moment of pure genius, had brought on Yusuf Pathan in the third over of the innings, and the off-spinner dismissed Adam Gilchrist and Shahid Afridi in the span of four deliveries, stunning the crowd into silence.
In walked the man who came at a whopping price of $1.35 million and one who was blown to smithereens by Virender Sehwag in the previous match. Off late, cometh the hour, Andrew Symonds has gone missing for his team.
On Thursday, the burly Queenslander finally came to the party. An hour later, the crowd was dancing in the isles, chanting “Symonds, Symonds” as if he was one of their own, as Jaipur players stood transfixed, mesmerised and utterly helpless by the brutal hold Symonds exerted on the day.
Buoyed by an expressive unbeaten 117 by Symonds, coming off just 53 deliveries, Hyderabad set a stiff target of 215 for Rajasthan to chase. Under pressure because of his below-par performances in the last two games, Symonds, with his dreadlocked hair and zinc-creamed lips, seemed a man possessed from the outset. On the ninth delivery he faced, he crashed Shane Watson through mid-off with such force that even if the fielder got a hand to it, the ball would have raced past the boundary. It was not all brute force with Symmo. In between, there was finesse too as he glided, and glanced cheekily. The most compelling sight came when Warne brought himself on in the ninth over.
Bowling a length much shorter than usual, Warne started well against Symonds, who seemed to be sizing up his countrymate as a panther would its prey. Symonds waited till the second over before laying into Warne, scything him over long-on for a massive six and following it with a clinical boundary.
From then on, Symonds starting executing his improvisation with amazing dexterity and began to use the long handle with aplomb. He raced to his 50 off only 29 deliveries and never allowed the bowlers to settle. There were sixes and boundaries galore in every over as Symonds filled his boots. It took him only 18 more deliveries to get from 50 to 100 as he did to the Jaipur bowling what he had done to a streaker at the Gabba recently. In fact, the sight of the day was when he hoisted Warne over long-on a second time to complete his century, forcing the crowd and even Warne to clap in unison.
He was wonderfully supported by Rohit Sharma, who made a prudent 36 from 30 deliveries and seems to be maturing into a fine player. Munaf Patel was taken to the cleaners as he gave away 55 runs from his four overs.