It was billed as a big showdown – the last encounter between the Sheikh of tweak Shane Warne and the batting genius Sachin Tendulkar – but it turned out to be an anti-climax.
The two did come face-to-face for two overs but seemed out of sorts. Tendulkar failed to force the pace, while Warnie couldn’t get his big spinners going.
In the end, however, Warne emerged the winner with the Rajasthan Royals’ batsmen making a mockery of Mumbai Indians’ modest total of 133, rattling up the runs in just 13.1 overs without losing a wicket. It was just the perfect icing on their captain’s farewell cake and only the fourth 10-wicket win in IPL history.
Shane Watson and Rahul Dravid made their bats blaze to make the night – it was the last meeting of two legends Sachin and Shane – their own. Watson bludgeoned the MI attack scoring a whirlwind 89 (47 balls; 9×4, 6×6) while Dravid gave him fitting company with 43 (32b; 6×4). It must have rankled Warne a bit that the Royals had to bow out of IPL 4 after such a cracking show.
Earlier in the evening, a wait of eight long overs came to an end for the Mumbaikars as saw Warne marked his run-up in his trademark style. To their delight, Tendulkar had by then already had his big share of two lucky escapes, surviving two lbw appeals off left-arm spinner Ankit Chavan in the second and seventh overs.
Tendulkar went on to score a sedate 35 but the skipper did steer his side out of the woods after opting to bat first. Mumbai Indians made one of their slowest start of the season producing only 20 runs in five overs losing two wickets.
It was only after the arrival of the classy Rohit Sharma, who made 58 (47balls, 5×4,1×6) that the scoreboard really picked pace with Warne conceding as many as 11 runs in his first over.
Rohit rose to the occasion with both grace and patience and displayed his full arsenal of strokes to push MI ahead. His partnership of 48 runs in 7.3 overs with Tendulkar set the tone for an otherwise pedestrian innings on track that offered turn.
Once Tendulkar departed, slashing straight to Watson at third man off Amit Singh, Rohit took charge but his best just wasn’t enough.