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Warnie gets a spanking

The spin maestro gets taken for a few in a game that started well and then fizzled out

Ben Rodger
27-Apr-2009
Irfan Pathan picked up two wickets in his opening over, Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab, Cape Town, April 26, 2009

Irfan took on Warne with the bat and then did for Rajasthan's openers with the ball  •  AFP

Team supported
Bangalore Royal Challengers. It's all about captain Kevin Pietersen. The home crowds may not be his biggest fans but he is unquestionably the biggest draw at this year's IPL. And Jesse Ryder too - giving all Sunday-league cricketers belief that they can reach the top regardless of physique and after-hours indulgences.
Star performer
A toss-up between Kumar Sangakkara and Irfan Pathan, but the former probably just about edges it. He placed the ball into gaps with ease and knew just when to hit the accelerator. Without his canny knock the Kings XI Punjab would have struggled to get anywhere near the total they did. In retrospect he probably had begrudging admiration for Mahesh Rawat's glovework, which ended his stay at the crease.
One thing I'd have changed about the game
I watched all of the Royals' games at Newlands in the last week, and Shane Warne's tendency to tweak the field on a ball-by-ball basis does become a touch infuriating after a while. While it is important to get the field just right, is it really so important to move third man five metres to the left and then back again every other ball? A close second is fans arriving late trying to squeeze into gaps on the grass embankment that simply don't exist.
Key face-off
When Warne takes the ball, you expect things to happen - and they did. However, you do not expect him to be taken for 37 runs in four overs.
After briefly troubling Sangakkara for the first four balls of his spell, Irfan immediately took the initiative and heaved him over cow for a maximum. From then on, the pair never looked back, using a combination of brute force (Pathan) and nurdling (Sangakkara) to put the Kings XI Punjab firmly in control at a time when the Royals would have been looking to knock them over cheaply.
Cheerleader factor
Being sat in front of the Royals' cheerleaders was an honour and a privilege. Never out of sync, and despite the fairly chilly temperatures by the time the second innings came around, they livened up the crowd with smiling faces. Royals' girls, I salute you.
Crowd meter
As good as the atmosphere has been all week - including the opening ceremony. Even the hospitality area looked fairly full for the first time. Crowds were filling the ground from before 3pm, with lots of replica shirts, ridiculous wigs and fancy dress on show. Top marks.
Local hero
Graeme Smith roused the crowd during his brief stay at the crease, but following his exploits on Wednesday night in the Super Over, the Newlands crowd has claimed Yussuf Pathan as one of our own.
Entertainment
Starting with the saxophone of Joel Benjamin before moving onto Prime Circle (South Africa's prime rock band, I'm told), all broken up intermittently with DJ Craig de Souza's beats, there was definitely something for everybody.
Overall
This game mirrored many of those at Newlands thus far - superb for the first 25 overs of the match until it became clear we were in for a fairly uncompetitive match, which then in turn hurt the atmosphere a little. The fact that the Royals lost so many early wickets meant they were never really in with a shout, which was extremely disappointing, as the total that they had to chase was definitely gettable. It would have been nice to have seen a few performances from the big guns - Smith, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Yuvraj Singh all sent the crowd home disappointed.
Marks out of 10
I would give it a 7. A slight anti-climax following the drama of Thursday night, but nice to see Warne getting ploughed to all areas of the ground.

Ben Rodger is from Scotland and has just finished being a student (sounds better than being unemployed!) in Ireland. He is currently hiding from the recession back home here in Cape Town. He has played a fair bit of cricket in Scotland and Ireland, so needless to say he has played in all weather conditions on all sorts of pitches - nothing really comes as a surprise anymore to him.