Shanes too good for the Kings

Shane Warne has lost none of his magic. His mesmerising spell against Kings XI brought him three wickets.-PTI

It was a day when the Shanes from Australia, Warne and Watson, caused a lot of bother to the team from Punjab. G. Viswanath reports.

Shane Warne proved that he’s still a master tactician and a magician bagging three Kings XI Punjab wickets at the lovely Sawai Man Singh Stadium. It was a day when the crafty leg-spinner made the ball obey his every whim. Shane Watson, another Australian, struck the big and vital blows and deserved the applause. Watson’s superb unbeaten half century eventually brought down Preity Zinta’s team. It would have been a close finish for the Man of the Match awa rd. Both Warne and Watson were deserving candidates, but Warne got it.

Warne is the showpiece of the Rajasthan Royals IPL team, but he never acts like a showman. The local crowd was on its feet and gyrating when Rajasthan’s famous folk, pop and fusion singer Ila Arun sang a couple of popular hits in her husky tone and goaded the crowd to yell ‘Halla Bol’, the theme song of the Royals, in order to boost the team’s morale. Actor Sameera Reddy followed suit, before the umpires called play on a pitch and designer outfield that brought credit to the ground staff.

The Royals had fallen like nine pins at the Kotla and were keen to make amends and quickly, too. Munaf Patel made a promising start in his opening over and thereafter deceived Karan Goel with a brilliant yorker-length delivery to hit the lower part of the off stump. In between these two fine moments, Kings XI piled on runs with the left-handed Goel stealing the thunder from the more experienced James Hopes.

The Royals then became listless and another game appeared to be slipping away from it when Siddarth Trivedi was being hammered by Kumar Sangakkara. Then Warne made a dramatic appearance. He teased and tricked the Sri Lankan left-hander into lobbing a straightforward catch to him.

The wily leg-spinner used the crease well and struck again, hitting Hopes’ back leg. Darren Lehmann at extra-cover was found wanting when Yuvraj Singh chanced his arm and this helped Kings XI stage a rally. “I would not call it dropped catches; that’s the way it goes,” said Warne referring to the ‘lives’ Yuvraj enjoyed when he was on 15 and 27.

The Kings XI captain made a half-century before falling to his counterpart. Warne’s three for 19 was quite a splendid effort. After his first success, Warne tossed the ball to a rookie leg spinner who plays club and inter-office cricket in Mumbai. Dinesh Salunkhe, described by Warne as India’s future superstar along with Ravinder Jadeja, lured Mahela Jayawardene out of his ground to bring Pakistani wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal into the big picture.

Kings XI suffered too many body blows before closing out at 166 for eight. Brett Lee, Sreesanth and Hopes, thanks to a fine running catch converted by Piyush Chawla, kept the game in a tense and balanced state before Watson hit five 6s and as many 4s.

Watson and Lehmann showed some discipline in defence in their 51-run stand. Thereafter it was Watson and Jadeja all the way. The Saurashtra left-hander too was in total control, an example of which was a delicate placement away from the ’keeper off fast bowler Lee. The ball raced wide of the fielder scurrying near the line and went into the fence.

The Royals won its first DLF-IPL match with two Australians with their first names Shane causing the rival’s downfall.

THE SCORES

Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab, Sawai Man Singh Stadium, Jaipur,

April 21, 2008. Result: