'We just weren't good enough' - Shane Warne
"My son's Under-12 side would be tough at the moment," said Shane Warne with a grimace as he was asked to look ahead to the Rajasthan Royals' next game, against the Knight Riders. Edged out by the Mumbai Indians in their opening game, and then comfortably beaten by the Delhi Daredevils, the Royals plumbed new depths in Bangalore, and appear no more than a shadow of the team that won 11 of 14 league games in the inaugural season.
"We just weren't good enough," said Warne. "We just didn't do all the things we'd spoken of before the game. All their bowlers did very well on a good pitch. I thought it was a 200-plus wicket. It was beautiful. There was pace, and you could really play your shots.
"Against Delhi, I thought we had a hangover from the first game. But credit to Bangalore. They set the tone early on, and never let us into the game."
With Graeme Smith back in Cape Town, Dimitri Mascarenhas ruled out and Shane Watson due back from international duty only in April, the Royals' lack of resources is clearly beginning to grate. "We need to do something quickly," he said, almost admitting that turning water into wine season after season was not an option. "I reckon you need at least seven wins to have a chance of semi-final place. We're not out of it, but if we play like we did today, we may as well give the points to the opposition."
The gulf in class was most evident at the top of the innings, with Hampshire's Michael Lumb painfully out of his depth against Dale Steyn. Other teams either have all-time greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Sanath Jayasuriya, or Twenty20 veterans such as Brad Hodge, opening the innings. Next to them, the Royals' combination of Lumb and Naman Ojha looked distinctly second-class.
After two relatively poor outings, Steyn really found his groove on Thursday night and though he went wicketless, he softened up batsmen for others to pick them off. "PK [Praveen Kumar] and Dale set the tone early on," said Jacques Kallis, who bowled the heavy ball beautifully before combining with Manish Pandey to breeze past the target in 10.4 overs. "They got the momentum going our way. And to get a hat-trick like that was unbelievable."
Praveen's hat-trick sent the crowd into a tizzy, and produced a smile on a face more known for its scowls. "The way we planned, we bowled that way," he said in Hindi. "When I got the second wicket, I thought it might happen [smile]. I was going to bowl a length ball anyway, even if he tried to hit it for six. If he missed, I knew I had a chance."
In the previous game, Bangalore's bowlers had been carted for more than 200. But when asked if he had felt apprehensive when walking on to the park at 8pm, Praveen smiled again. "No fear," he said. "Whatever will happen will happen."
As for Warne, he ended his press conference by saying: "Don't give up on us. Not yet!" The clock, though, is already ticking, louder by the minute.