The last song of the dusk has come a little too early for Shane Warne. And it came accompanied by a nightmare many had feared it may.
Knight Riders, the worst team in IPL Season Two, shattering the Aussie’s dream of defending the title his team had so miraculously won last year. This time around, the chapter in which it all goes so abruptly wrong came a few pages earlier than Warne might have perceived.
But, then, there’s nobody to blame but themselves; decisions he personally took, some mindless batting and sloppy fieldwork… they all added up in the end on Wednesday to work against Team Jaipur.
When Brendon McCullum invited Warne to pad up first, the Knight Riders captain knew for sure was that Graeme Smith had been rested and allrounder Tyron Hendersen had been included. That meant a weaker opening pair, less experienced batsmen up the order, no ‘Rock at the Top’ for Warne.
Not in the first over, when Brad Hodge gave away 22 runs, but it did begin to show as the match progressed how Warne’s decision to bench Smith would cost the leggie everything.
The first wicket fell with 22 on board, second on 28, third on 28 again and the fourth on 42. Jaipur were soon a run short of 100 when their ninth batsman was walking back to the pavilion. In fact, had it not been for Warne and Jadeja’s patchy 30-run stand for the eighth wicket, they wouldn’t have got to 101 for 9 that they did.
They came back strongly, knocking down five wickets with the board reading 37, and then another eight runs later. Laxmi Ratan Shukla, having made a quiet start, was soon forcing the pace to take the Knights across the finish line with an unbeaten 46-ball 48.
In the end, there was just three balls to spare. “We decided to include Hendersen in place of Smith because he provided the option of an allrounder and he is a clean hitter,” Warne offered after the match. He was surely missing Shane Watson when it came to such a crunch outing.
For once, call it pressure, the leg-spinner also didn’t mince words when he said that a lot was expected of youngsters like Swapnil Asnodkar, Abhishek Raut and Neeraj Patel but they didn’t quite grab the opportunity with both hands.
To Warne’s credit, he had reposed a lot of faith in the boys; to Warne’s abject failure, he expected a little too much from them in this intense pressure situation.