It’s a Warne show

Skipper Shane Warne, the hero of Rajasthan Royals’ victory, is lifted by his jubilant team-mates.-PTI

With 17 runs needed off the last over, Rajasthan Royals’ skipper Shane Warne pulled off one of the most remarkable feats seen at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. Abhijit Sen Gupta reports.

It has often been stated that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. This aspect was highlighted once again when Rajasthan Royals turned the tables on Deccan Chargers in the last over of their DLF-IPL match in Hyderabad.

Till then it looked like the Chargers had the match in its bag as the Royals seemed to have made heavy weather of its target of 214. The Rajasthan team needed 17 runs in the last over which looked like a tall order going by the general trend. The Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds was given the task of bowling that final over and he seemed determined to finish the job well. The crowd was getting ready to celebrate its team’s first win in the tournament when the most incredible thing happened.

That was when the Royals’ skipper Shane Warne pulled off one of the most remarkable feats seen on this ground. Seven runs came off the first three balls. Warne then sent the fourth ball soaring over the mid-wicket fence.

As Symonds bowled the fifth ball, Warne took a mighty heave and the ball once again cleared the boundary, this time at long-off. The required runs had come off only five balls!

Symonds remained rooted to the spot, clearly in a state of shock. So were the spectators.

Many seemed glued to their chairs, unable to believe their eyes. Later, a visibly dejected Symonds said that it was perhaps the worst over he had ever bowled.

Earlier, it was Symonds who had laid the foundation for a big total for Deccan Chargers by using his bat like a sledgehammer. His bludgeoning of almost all the rival bowlers made it extremely difficult to set a field or to find the right line and length to contain the flow of runs. He hit the fastest century of the tournament, reaching the three-figure mark off only 47 balls. He remained unbeaten on 117 (53 balls, 11x4, 7x6). His 111-run fourth wicket stand with Rohit Sharma helped Deccan Chargers to a formidable 214 for five.

When it began the chase Rajasthan Royals knew the task would not be easy. But the team approached it with gusto. A rousing second wicket stand of 98 between Graeme Smith (71, 45 balls, 4x8, 6x2) and Yusuf Pathan (61, 28 balls, 4x4, 6x6) put the Royals on the right track.

Pathan needed only 21 balls to reach his half century. But the dangerous looking duo was separated when Pathan’s miscued shot off Kalyanakrishna sailed straight into Symonds’ hands at long-on. Thereafter, Rajasthan Royals’ pace slackened. The batsmen who followed were unable to force the pace and the runs came mostly in singles. Shahid Afridi made the biggest dent in the Royals’ batting with his haul of three for 27. He bowled cleverly, pushing the ball through faster than he normally does with a flatter trajectory.

Kaif hoisted Symonds over the midwicket hoardings twice but departed soon after. When Graeme Smith too followed, the match seemed to have swung decisively in favour of the Chargers. But that was when Symonds took the ball for the last over and Royals skipper Warne snatched an incredible victory.

THE SCORES

Deccan Chargers v Rajasthan Royals, Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad, April 24, 2008.

Result: