Final spin before sunset
Watson blitzkrieg gives fitting farewell to the Royals skipper; leaves Mumbai's playoff chances hanging by a thread. Abhijeet Kulkarni reports. Scorecardindia Updated: May 21, 2011 02:09 IST
Rajasthan Royals players wanted to give skipper Shane Warne a grand farewell. And Mumbai Indians played the good hosts by providing a wicket that had spin and bounce.
Their batsmen then obliged, lacking application and perseverance to build an innings and Royals outplayed Mumbai Indians, registering a thumping 10-wicket victory with 6.5 overs to spare.
Chasing a modest 134 to win, Royals never looked under trouble with all rounder Shane Watson (89 off 47 balls) at last coming to the party, sharing a fluent partnership with Rahul Dravid (43 off 32 balls). The Australian treated all the Mumbai Indians bowlers with disdain, even making the tournament's highest wicket-taker Lasith Malinga look mediocre when he carted him for three sixes and four boundaries.
Watson's knock turned the match into a one-sided affair and has put Mumbai Indians in a spot of bother. The last year's finalists will now have to beat Kolkata Knight Riders in their last league game in Kolkata to ensure a knock out berth.
Mumbai Indians had struggled to chase modest totals in their last two games on slow turning tracks. So there was no surprise when skipper Sachin Tendulkar won the toss and opted to bat.
The decision also paved the way for the final showdown between Tendulkar and Warne and the packed Wankhede stadium erupted in anticipation when Warne walked out with the ball in hand.
Warne sprung a surprise by handing the new ball to left arm spinner Ankit Chavan. The 25-year-old Mumbai player bowled a tight four-over spell and could have reduced the Warne-Tendulkar face off to a no show had his leg before appeals against the Mumbai Indians skipper not turned down.
Tendulkar was still to find his touch when Warne came on to bowl in the ninth over and could manage seven runs from the seven deliveries he faced against the leg spinner before holing out to third man off Amit Singh.
Mumbai's hopes were kept alive by Rohit Sharma (58 off 47 balls), who was at ease playing both spin and seam. The 24-year-old walked into bat with his team in trouble at 17 for 2, but instead of getting baulked down, he used his trademark inside out shot against the spinners to ease the pressure.
Sharma welcomed Warne with a couple of twos to the leg side and then sent him to the extra cover fence with his trademark inside out shot. But Warne then had the last laugh when he tricked Sharma into stepping out and losing the grip on his bat, for an easy stumping.
Watson feels Warne still has it in him to torment batsmen at the highest level. "The way Warnie is bowling now, he would continue to dominate world cricket," he told The Age.