Dimitri Mascarenhas' all-round effort overwhelmed the Middlesex Panthers in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd at Lord's. He blasted 32 of Rajasthan Royal's final 37 runs at a strike-rate of 200 to haul them to a competitive score, and then took two wickets, including the big one of Owais Shah, with the new ball.
Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan then showed off some unconventional strokes but they weren't too effective, as Middlesex could only cobble together 24 runs in a seven-over period, leaving them at 47 for 3 after 10. Nearly two runs were needed off each ball after that, a task which proved well beyond Middlesex, especially against the likes of Shane Warne and a rejuvenated Sohail Tanvir.
It was Warne's final competitive game at Lord's and the legspinner had flown in from Las Vegas, where he's playing poker, on Sunday evening to play the match today. He bowled impressively for someone who admitted to being out of practice, taking 1 for 24 off four overs, and is due to fly out to Las Vegas again on Tuesday morning. He came on to bowl in the 10th over of the Middlesex innings, and received a massive cheer from the substantial crowd.
At the start of the match, though, typically British weather, swinging between heavy showers and bright sunshine, had the festive crowd wondering whether there would be much play but a full game was squeezed in. With Rajasthan's anthem of 'Halla Bol' ringing around Lord's, the spectators were chanting and dancing right through.
In both seasons of the IPL, Warne has relied on the performances of youngsters and two of them, Swapnil Asnodkar and Faiz Fazal, provided Rajasthan with a solid start when they were sent in. They guided Rajasthan to 55 in the seventh over before Murali Kartik had Fazal caught at sweeper cover, bringing in Moahmmad Kaif, who had been left out of the Rajasthan's squad to South Africa for the IPL earlier this year.
Though there were no further breakthroughs for a while, Kartik kept the brakes on Rajasthan. Just as Asnodkar started to open out, swinging a full toss over square leg in the 15th over, he was dismissed by Malan. There were a couple more quick wickets, Naman Ojha and Justin Langer, before Mascarenhas came in.
He started with a four to third man and a savage pull over midwicket providing the required impetus. Kaif had little of the strike towards the end and helped Mascarenhas steal a flurry of twos to lift Rajasthan to a total which the misfiring Middlesex batting never looked like chasing down.