Rajasthan Royals nails a thriller

Yusuf Pathan... the player of the final.-VIVEK BENDRE

“The IPL was a test of character for the team and the players responded well,” said Shane Warne who led Rajasthan Royals to a thrilling victory. Nandakumar Marar reports.

Shane Warne was there at the end to haul Rajasthan Royals over the line in the final of the DLF Indian Premier League. The three-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings marked the end of a journey for the Rajasthan Royals’ skipper whose biggest contribution was to make competitive cricket an enjoyable experience for both the spectators and the players.

“The best part of IPL was the opportunity to work with such young guys, watch them learn the skills and enjoy their cricket,” Warne said later.

Going into the final against Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals was the most successful team having won 12 of its 15 matches. In the final, Swapnil Asnodkar’s flashy knock (28 off 20 balls, four boundaries), Yusuf Pathan’s intimidating strokeplay (56 off 39 balls, three fours, four sixes) and Ravinder Jadeja’s electrifying presence in the field (two catches) entertained the crowd.

The glorious spirit of the Royals  

As Rajasthan Royals got within the striking distance of its target (164 runs), the D. Y. Patil Stadium buzzed with excitement. The Rajasthan players seemed ready to give everything for their skipper.

“We gave them the confidence to walk on the edge,” said Warne of his approach. He goaded the youngsters to perform without fear of failure.

Speaking of his team, Warne said, “We are not down to one individual, unlike a few other franchises who depend on one player.

“The IPL was a test of character for the team and the players responded well. The whole journey was wonderful,” he added.

Watson being adjudged IPL’s most outstanding performer, Yusuf Pathan being chosen as the player of the final and Tanvir topping the bowling chart were the highs for Rajasthan Royals.

Even Chennai Super Kings’ skipper M. S. Dhoni praised Warne’s leadership. “He motivated the side very well, used the talent to potential and above all, played very well himself,” he said.

Speaking of his team’s defeat in the final, Dhoni said: “You win a few, lose a few. I like to remain in the middle lane and not get carried away by success or devastated by defeat. Sport is to be enjoyed.

Chennai Super Kings’ superb show  

“We lost as a team, mistakes were made in all departments — batting, bowling and fielding. We played as a team, so we have to accept it (collectively) and take responsibility,” Dhoni added.

Pathan always takes risks regardless of the situation his team is in. Chennai let go two chances from him and missed the opportunity to turn the heat back on its rival. Suresh Raina got under a huge hit from Pathan but failed to latch on to the chance as the ball popped out of his hands at mid-wicket. Gony then spilled a difficult chance off his own bowling.

Pathan went after the bowlers, lashing two huge sixes off consecutive balls from Muralitharan. He also managed to pick Balaji’s length early and hit him into the stands. “When Yusuf is batting, you have to get him out early; you can’t allow him to stay at the wicket,” observed Dhoni.

Watson the destroyer  

Balaji bowled the last over with Rajasthan needing eight runs for victory after Warne hit a stunning cover-drive off Ntini to the fence in the penultimate over.

“We had five bowling options. It worked so far. You take decisions, sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. Winning or losing is the beauty of sport,” explained Dhoni when asked about his decision to bowl Balaji at the death.

Tanvir’s poise under pressure made things a bit easy for Rajasthan Royals. He confidently hit the winning run.

THE SCORES

Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals, final, Dr. D. Y. Patil Sports Academy, Mumbai, June 1, 2008.

Result: Rajasthan Royals won by three wickets.

Chennai Super Kings 163 for five in 20 overs (P. Patel 38, S. Raina 43, M. S. Dhoni 29 not out, Yusuf Pathan three for 22) lost to Rajasthan Royals 164 for seven in 20 overs (S. Asnodkar 28, S. Watson 28, Yusuf Pathan 56, J. Morkel two for 25, M. Muralitharan two for 39).