Shane Warne, the Rajasthan Royals captain, has described Yusuf Pathan's ferocious 37-ball century against Mumbai Indians as the best innings he's seen in his 21-year career. Yusuf blasted nine fours and eight sixes to haul Rajasthan back into the game in their chase of 213, after they had required 143 in 57 balls at one stage. However, his innings - the second-quickest Twenty20 century - was in vain, as he was brilliantly run out by R Sathish, marking a decisive moment in Rajasthan's four-run defeat.
"I've played cricket for 21 years and I have seen Sachin Tendulkar as the best batsman against whom I have played as he has murdered attacks and hit them all over the park. But today was the best innings I have ever seen," Warne said. "From a situation of 37 for 3 in seven overs and chasing 213 and come so close thanks to a 37 ball-100. It's a special innings. We believe we can win from anywhere. We just have to sort out our batting in the first six overs. In the last two IPLs we have won more games than anyone and we have won more close finishes."
Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan, Mumbai's fast bowlers, delivered yorkers consistently at the death when 19 were required off 12 balls. Rajasthan only managed 14, but Warne said the three run-outs in his team's innings and some lapses in the field while Mumbai were batting cost them in the end.
"Malinga is a good bowler at the death. We had plans to get to within eight runs of the target," Warne said. "The start wasn't great with a run out in the first over. Three run outs in the innings, a couple of dropped catches and some extras. That probably cost us the game in the end. We're proud of the way we played. We have a lot of young players who will take a lot from this."
Yusuf regretted his dismissal but took heart from his team's spirited comeback. "I made an error because of which we lost, else we would have won," he said. "We're sad right now but we are also very happy that we played good cricket apart from the extras we conceded. When such flat wickets get made, records get broken and runs get scored. We will learn a lot from this loss and there is not a lot to worry as this is a long tourney."
Mumbai's strong batting performance was a result of half-centuries from Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu. Shaun Tait, the South Australian fast bowler, proved the most expensive, conceding 46 in four overs and undermining a big reputation coming into this tournament. Warne, however, defended Tait and was confident he'd get better. "Shaun Tait is probably one of the most exciting bowlers in the world," he said. "Unfortunately today he didn't get it right. There were patches where he did. But he'll be better for the run."
Sachin Tendulkar, the Mumbai captain, hailed Yusuf's knock as "special" and said he was aware of his ability to spark such a turnaround. "It was a special innings from him, but even the effort from R Sathish to get him run out was special," he said.
"Before he came in and played that knock, I thought we would win this match with ease, but that's the beauty of this great game. You can never take anything for granted. I knew Yusuf was in great form and if he connects the ball well, the target was achievable."