CRICKET: Rajasthan give Warne a winning send-off

AFP, MUMBAI, INDIA

Sun, May 22, 2011 - Page 18

Australian leg-spin wizard Shane Warne quit professional cricket on Friday after leading the Rajasthan Royals to a 10-wicket win over the Mumbai Indians in his farewell Indian Premier League match.

Rajasthan, already out of contention, rode on Shane Watson’s all-round show (3-19 and 89 not out) to achieve a 134-run target and finish their campaign with six victories in 14 games of the Twenty20 tournament.

Australian Watson smashed six sixes and nine fours in his explosive 47-ball knock, while Rahul Dravid remained unbeaten with a 32-ball 43.

Mumbai, with eight wins in 13 matches, now need a victory in their last game to make sure of the playoffs.

A capacity crowd at the Wankhede Stadium also witnessed Warne’s last battle with another legend, Indian batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar, their first encounter being in aa Sydney Test in 1992.

Skipper Tendulkar, the world’s leading run-getter in both Test and one-day cricket, was batting on 18 after having survived two confident LBW appeals, when Warne came on to bowl in the ninth over.

The Australian conceded just two singles to Tendulkar in his opening over and five off as many deliveries in his next, which included two dot-balls.

When Warne came for his third over, Tendulkar (31) had already been dismissed, caught by Watson at third-man while attempting to cut seamer Amit Singh.

The Australian conceded just five runs in that over and a fan flashed a placard, reading “Bowling Shane, thanks for the magic Warnie.”

Warne’s fourth and last over in competitive cricket was eventful as he nearly grabbed a wicket with his first delivery, but Ashok Menaria dropped top-scorer Rohit Sharma (58) at long-on.

He did not have to wait long for his first success as he had Sharma stumped with his fourth delivery, with the batsman losing his bat in the process while trying to attempt a big shot. Warne finished with 1-30.

Tendulkar was the first to pay tribute to the Australian great.

“He [Warne] is a true champion, a wonderful friend. I have not been privileged to play with him in the same team, but it’s been a real treat to play against him,” Tendulkar said at the toss. “Congrats Warne for a wonderful career and I wish him all the luck for his future.”

Warne’s teammates then gave him a guard of honor, standing in two lines to salute the legend.

Warne, who quit international cricket in 2007, spent four seasons with Rajasthan who will always remember his contribution as a spinner, captain, coach and mentor.