This match was billed as a clash of the legends, with three of cricket’s greatest run-getters – Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar – featuring, and there was the added draw of Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh facing off days after Sreesanth’s barrage of tweets re-opened the Slapgate controversy from the first season of the IPL.
To dash the dreams of the marketing men, the three legends played 12 deliveries in all, and Sreesanth was rested from the game as Rajasthan Royals wanted to ensure they didn’t overwork him soon after a long lay-off.
Still, the fans at the Sawai Man Singh stadium were treated to one of the joys of the IPL, watching journeymen cricketers take their chances in the limelight as Royals brushed away their underdog tag to go top of the table after demolishing the high-profile Mumbai Indians.
Dishant Yagnik made the most of being promoted to No. 3 to ensure the momentum wasn’t lost after Shane Watson’s high-octane start, the unheralded offspinner Ajit Chandila can tell his grandkids he’s the first bowler to have dismissed both Tendulkar and Ponting in the same match, and the under-rated Siddharth Trivedi virtually ended the chase by getting the dangerous Rohit Sharma in a wicket maiden.
This was a night on which almost everything went right for Royals. Their Twenty20 superstar Watson took apart Mumbai’s main threat, Lasith Malinga, to lead Royals to 58 after six overs. The trouble for Royals has been that they have struggled to kick on once Watson departs – this time in the eight over – but Dravid decided to demote himself and gave Yagnik a go.
Yagnik had shown in the limited chances he has gotten that he is not short on confidence, and loves to try unorthodox strokes. He began with a streaky four past the wicketkeeper, but then became far more assured as he thrashed Kieron Pollard over midwicket for six, and drilled several boundaries to point before falling for a 24-ball 34 while attempting a reverse-sweep.
Ajinkya Rahane was at the other end when Watson and Yagnik were going ballistic, and though he too played some big hits in the Powerplay, he couldn’t find the boundary easily after that. He wisely decided to turn the strike over to the power-hitters, anchoring the innings with his typically orthodox strokes. He hit three fours in the final over after an extended dry spell in the second half of the innings, but the real acceleration came from Twenty20 expert Brad Hodge, who slammed a 15-ball 27.
Mumbai had to chase 180 to win, and against the innocuous Chandila and left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan, they lost Tendulkar and Ponting cheaply.
Tendulkar top-edged a sweep and Ponting lobbed back a return catch, and when Trivedi had Rohit holing out to midwicket in the seventh over, Mumbai were virtually out of it. Pollard was promoted but he was done in by an inswinger from Stuart Binny in the eighth over, after which Mumbai were only looking to limit the margin of defeat. They didn’t do too well on that front either, slumping to their biggest loss in terms of runs. (Cricinfo)