Watson the destroyer

Rajasthan Royals’ captain Shane Warne congratulates Shane Watson (right) on dismissing Maharoof.-PTI Rajasthan Royals’ captain Shane Warne congratulates Shane Watson (right) on dismissing Maharoof.

With Shane Watson dismantling Delhi Daredevils’ top-order, Rajasthan Royals had a free run to victory. Nandakumar Marar reports.

Shane Warne’s knack of bringing the best out of his team-mates is winning him admirers among Indian Premier League followers. The Rajasthan Royals’ skipper thrust Sohail Tanvir into a new role as a pinch-hitter in the semi-final against Delhi Daredevils. The Pakistani flopped with the bat, but repaid his skipper for having faith in him by playing a vital part in the dismissal of Virender Sehwag. Tanvir’s running catch on the fence, shuffling sideways to h old the ball inches away from the ropes, was the breakthrough Rajasthan Royals was waiting for.

From there on until sealing victory in the 17th over — Delhi Daredevils was bowled out for 87, giving Rajasthan Royals a massive victory by 105 runs — it was the Rajasthan team all the way.

Warne did not miss a trick in making the 193-run target look huge to Delhi Daredevils. Shane Watson dealt major blows by removing the prolific Gautam Gambhir and the enterprising Shikhar Dhawan apart from Sehwag for his fourth Man of the Match award. After these dismissals, the Rajasthan Royals’ captain ensured that the heat was always turned on the opposition.

Rajasthan raised its level of fielding in keeping with the high stakes. Its catching was spot on as Delhi Daredevils’ batsmen fell in a heap. Tanvir brought off two good catches, while substitute Taruvar Kohli’s effort to send back Gambhir and Mohd. Kaif’s performance in the outfield to dismiss Dinesh Karthik were outstanding.

“We played a perfect match,” said a delighted Warne.

Rajasthan Royals began well with openers Swapnil Asnodkar and Graeme Smith punching holes in Sehwag’s strategy by putting on 67 runs.

The diminutive Indian and his big-made partner from South Africa take different routes to the common goal of destroying the morale of the bowlers. The rapport between Asnodkar and Smith has proved to be a nemesis for many bowlers and this time it was the turn of Mohammed Asif to take the brunt. Glenn McGrath’s three overs cost him 22 runs which left the Aussie shaking his head in dismay.

Watson picked up the baton from Asnodkar (39 off 21 balls) and maintained the flow of sixes and fours till the end.

Sehwag brought leg-spinner Amit Mishra into the attack halfway through the innings, but the Australian all-rounder switched to attack mode. He hit Yo Mahesh for two sixes, the first one clearing the roof at square leg.

When Mishra tried to lure him with his flight, Watson got down on one knee and lifted the ball into the stands at mid-wicket. Mishra, however, deceived Mohd. Kaif and got Watson (52 runs, 25 balls, four boundaries, three sixes) stumped.

Warne held back the hard-hitting Yusuf Pathan for the late charge and the lanky batsman (45 off 21 balls) stuck to his role, striking three fours and four sixes to take Rajasthan Royals to 192 for nine in 20 overs.

When Delhi Daredevils began the chase, run-making became difficult as Watson (3-10), Munaf Patel (3-17) and Warne (2-21) bowled to the field.

THE SCORES

Delhi Daredevils v Rajasthan Royals, first semi-final, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, May 30, 2008.

Result: Rajasthan Royals won by 105 runs.

Rajasthan Royals 192 for nine in 20 overs (G. Smith 25, S. Asnodkar 39, S. Watson 52, Y. Pathan 45, Y. Mahesh two for 50, F. Maharoof three for 34, A. Mishra two for 37) beat Delhi Daredevils 87 in 16.1 overs (T. Dilshan 33, S. Watson three for 10, M. Patel three for 17, S. Warne two for 21).