“Bangalore won’t be planning for our surprises tonight. Let’s hope they come off.” Shane Warne on Twitter about six hours before the start of Rajasthan Royals’ match against the Royal Challengers.
In the past, Warnie has got into trouble for his activities with a mobile phone, including sending raunchy text messages to a British nurse.
Perhaps it’s time for the magician to give tweeting a miss, at least in the run-up to matches, as the joke was all on him as his depleted side imploded, and were crushed by 10 wickets by the home team. Praveen Kumar picked up the first hattrick of IPL III, clean bowling Damien Martyn after the Aussie had picked up his first boundary off the 23rd ball he faced.
Sumit Narwal top-edged a pull for Manish Pandey to take a good catch running in from fine-leg. Paras Dogra swiped across the line to the hattrick ball, which skidded through and pegged back the middle stump.
The crowd went wild, for there are few spectacles in cricket more exciting than the stumps shattering to seal a hattrick. The triple strike made Praveen the sixth bowler to take an IPL hattrick, the seventh time the event had occurred, with Yuvraj Singh pulling it off twice.
Exciting as that was, the real damage had been done before. After a laboured start, Yusuf Pathan walked out to the middle with the score reading 38/3. He started tentatively, inching to 6 off 13 balls before he was struck on the helmet by a slower bouncer from Vinay Kumar.
That seemed to wake him up as he clattered the next two balls for sixes, over long on and midwicket. Dropped twice, when he was on 19 by Rahul Dravid, and on 24 off a much tougher chance by Vinay, it seemed to be Pathan’s day. But Lady Luck, after offering her hand to Yusuf, left him stranded as he attempted a misjudged single and was caught short by a direct hit from Virat Kohli, who ran in from cover, dived and under-armed the ball in one motion.
Once Pathan was back with only 75 on the board, the game was as good as gone as the Royals slumped to 92 all out.
In reply, Bangalore barely broke into a sweat in bringing up their second consecutive win.