The Battle Royale, and a memorable last over
Plays of the Day from the IPL game between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium
Sachin Tendulkar has made a habit of falling victim to inexperienced bowlers and he almost did so again today. Ankeet Chavan had a convincing appeal against Tendulkar with the first ball he bowled at him. It landed on leg stump and rapped Tendulkar on the pads as he went back to defend. Umpire Paul Reiffel may have though it pitched outside leg, and gave Tendulkar a lifeline but replays showed that it was out. Tendulkar survived a second shout from Chavan in his third over, when replays again showed that leg stump would have been disturbed by the slider.
They first played against each other 19 years ago, in 1992, and there was something deliciously fitting about Tendulkar being part of the opposition for Shane Warne's final competitive match. It didn't look as though they would get to square off, after the two early appeals against Tendulkar, but in the ninth over, Warne brought himself on. He tossed up the first one to Tendulkar and the Little Master got a run. In the balls that followed, Tendulkar got a leading edge, pushed a ball to cover and mis-hit when he was deceived by the turn and saw off the wrong 'un. In seven balls that Tendulkar faced from Warne, he scored seven runs.
Warne saved the last over of the Mumbai innings for himself, and he could have had wickets with the first two balls. First, Rohit Sharma slog swept and was dropped by Ashok Menaria at long on, then James Franklin sent the googly just above the fingertips of the extra cover fielder. The third ball was quiet and with the fourth one, Warne conjured up some of that old magic. He tossed one up, knowing that Rohit was intent on coming down the track to attack, and confused him with the turn. It was an easy stumping in the end but a well thought out one from the king of spin.
Mumbai seemed determined to spook Shane Watson out, knowing that the Aussie opener has been struggling for destructive form in this IPL. After being hit for four by Watson, Lasith Malinga decided to draw some blood and banged in a bouncer that followed Watson. It was vicious and venomous and hit Watson on the lower part of his grill and his neck, pain that he bore with a brave face. After he had backed away to nurse his wound, Kieron Pollard decided to have a word or two with Watson about dealing with pain, and the lecture was anything but a friendly exchange.
Watson's response didn't come with words, but with two fours and a six in the next eight balls he faced from the Sri Lankan quick. All of them were short balls, a line Malinga persisted with even when he could see it wasn't working, and Watson was ready for it. He pulled through midwicket off both feet, showing Malinga that he wasn't scared of anything. The length seemed perfect for Watson to extend the arms and crash the ball over the midwicket region, which he did with bruising force. He ended with nine fours and six sixes, of which four fours and three sixes came off Malinga. If Watson had a bigger target to chase, it's likely that he would have been able to bring up three-figures.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent