These two Australian giants have lit this second season of IPL, writes Ravi Shastri
Matthew Hayden is a legend. One looked forward to his battle with Shane Warne the other night. They understand each other; both are respectful of each other’s strength and their tussle, classic in its own way, brought it out.
Warne brought himself on early as he realised Hayden held the key to Chennai’s chase. Hayden didn’t want to be shackled and the resultant battle of wits’ was engrossing.
One actually saw Hayden reverse sweep, a shot I particularly don’t remember him play, as his brute strength normally is enough to make nonsense of any line or length, spin or pace. Warne got him out stumped off a wide which was unusual in its own way.
These two Australian giants, now well into retirement, have lit this second season of IPL. ‘Haydos’ is so consistent and dominating, the best bat by a mile in this competition, that it’s difficult to believe he actually hasn’t played competitive cricket for a year now.
Same is true of Warne who, despite the heroics of Yusuf Pathan, must be the only reason why Rajasthan Royals is punching much above its weight. Their ferocity is a tribute to their competitive streak; they aren’t here to earn some cheap bucks.
The same is true with Brett Lee. He played his first match of the season and was the reason why Kings XI Punjab crossed the winning line. His bowling was fascinating.
On a bland Kimberley track, Lee excelled with his slower deliveries. Indeed, most of his deliveries were slower ones and beat batsmen for timing.
He probably has the best slow bouncer in the game and even his former team-mates, like Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds, were not up to it. Then his six in the penultimate over, sealed the game for his side.
Three champion cricketers, two having hung their boots and the other hoping to reclaim his berth in the national side, made it a fascinating Saturday of the competition.
Another foreign cricketer, this time a Sri Lankan, deserves mention.
Mahela Jayawardene batted brilliantly for his 40-odd and indeed timed three sixes out of his willow. Smash, hit or clobber aren’t the terms you associate with this elegant Lankan bat.
He specialises in splitting the field with metronomic precision.
One just hopes his suspected hamstring injury isn’t as serious as it appeared on the field. Kings XI can ill-afford to miss him at this stage.