Posted by: nestaquin | May 3, 2008

Royal Rajas Roll Kolkata

The Rajasthan Royals, colloquially and affectionately known in Australia as Warnie’s Mob, defeated the much vaunted yet underperforming Kolkata Knight Riders in what became a testy and spiteful match at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur by 45 runs last night.

It was the fourth match won in succession by Rajasthan and it was even more impressive than previous victories when you consider that their two best performing batsman, Graeme Smith and Shane Watson, only contributed a measly two runs to their competitive total of 196/7.

Smith was cleaned bowled failing in an adventurous contemptuous hoik against Ishant Sharma while Watson was adjudged lbw first ball to a delivery that was glanced from the middle of the bat onto boot and then to fine leg boundary. It was probably the worst decision of the tournament yet a bemused Watson accepted the decision without remonstration.

Warne, never one to rest on his laurels, produced a surprise selection in the slight opening batsman Swapnil Asnodkar. He appeared unflummoxed by the reputations of Kolkata bowlers and was particularly severe on Ajit Agarkar carting him for four fours and a beautifully struck six over long on. After he was dismissed for 60 by Umar Gul in the twelfth over the consistent Yusuf Pathan took up the reins and methodically hit the bad ball to the boundary while rotating the strike throughout in compiling 55 from 33 balls.

Ten an over is a difficult task batting second and when Salman Butt, the promoted Agarkar and Brad Hodge were back in the shed before the initial fielding restrictions were lifted the responsibility fell to Ganguly and David Hussey to rebuild while continuing the chase. Some tight middle overs by Munaf Patel and Siddharth Trivedi saw the rate climb to almost 12 by the halfway mark and with the pressure mounting Warne took the ball and marked out his run-up.

His first over was tight only leaking seven but as he was warming up for his next an incident occurred that swung the match heavily in his favour.

Sourav Ganguly was caught cleanly by a low diving Graeme Smith deep in the outfield and while Smith’s team-mates sprinted from all corners of the ground to congratulate him Ganguly, now at the non-striker’s end, began complaining to the umpire about the dismissal’s legality. This is clearly against the rules and also unfairly calls into question the integrity of the South African skipper. Umpire Pratap Kumar relented and referred the dismissal to the third umpire against square-leg umpire Rudi Koertzen’s advice. After two dozen replays where the commentators all agreed it was out the third umpire decided otherwise. It was a curious decision that turned the match sour and Ganguly should be held responsible. His identical actions sparked the animosity on the final day of the Sydney Test and like last night emboldened and stiffened the opposition’s will to win.

Warne was most displeased but kept his cool and as he passed Ganguly on his way to his mark he was overheard on the stump microphone saying, “Justice will catch up with you one day, Sourav”. Warne’s next series of deliveries were to David Hussey who promptly hit two boundaries and a single and with his next ball to Ganguly Warne’s prophecy was fulfilled. He tossed up a loopy over-spinner that dipped suddenly causing Ganguly to hit it straight to Mohammad Kaif at deep mid-off. The elated fieldsman held both arms aloft in triumph, index fingers pointed to the heavens as the whoops of joy and derision followed Ganguly to the dressing sheds. It was an instant karma moment and Kolkata never recovered. Such was the spirit and momentum created by Ganguly’s indiscretion that Rajasthan annihilated Kolkata thereafter taking the final 6 wickets for only 32 runs.

The team spirit at Rajasthan is a testament to Warne’s belief in himself and those around him. He is the greatest cricketer of his generation and history will record his name alongside WG Grace, Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Garfield Sobers as a unique player beyond compare. Every player in his team is playing above expectation and to see the young Indians and the usually dour South African captain playing fiercely with a disciplined joy is a further testament to his influence on all who express their cricket in his company.

An interesting sidelight in yesterday’s battle in Jaipur was the appearance on the bench of Dimi Mascarenhas. He was looking extremely fit and content and the eloquent and knowledgeable Caribbean commentator Tony Cozier produced a remarkable interview with the England limited-overs representative.

Dimi responded to Tony’s introduction with a natural “G’Day Mate” and when asked his thoughts on being the only England player in the IPL he responded with a chuckle, “I’m travelling on my original passport, mate. The structure here under Shane Warne and Darren Berry is the closest I’ve been to an Australian first-class set-up and I’m loving it and learning alot.”

Mascarenhas will likely have his chance to display what he has learned on Sunday in the top of the table clash against Chennai and like the rest of the men under Warne’s control he’ll no doubt be striving to produce his best for his inspirational larger than life leader.

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Responses

  1. That umpire’s been suspended for a game because of the referral to the third umpire.

  2. What’s Ganguly playing at? Anyway, he won’t change now.

    I’ve written before about how I believe Warne to be the greatest cricketer full stop. He has participated in more wins that matter (define it as you will) than any other player (I think – perhaps SR Waugh might squeeze ahead of him) and has undoubtedly contributed more to more wins than any other player. I don’t think I can think of a player in any team sport who knows more about what it takes to achieve the actual objective of the game than Warne. That places him ahead of anyone in my book.

    Dimi? Didn’t make the grade in er… Grade cricket, but upped sticks to make his life here and fair play to him for that. Seems a completely decent bloke to me. I hope he gets a game soon.

  3. Isn’t is amazing how commonplace it is now to punish umpires? The rule seems to be: accept what the umpire says, but only if it’s good for business…

  4. dcsiva, the biggest combined cock-up in recent umpiring history was the end of the World Cup Final, and all of the umpires got off scot-free. When umpires make clear errors of procedure (as opposed to errors of judging the line of the ball or presence of an edge etc.), they should get punished. Suspending Pratap is useful in that the other umpires now know not to bend to a player’s will and refer to the third umpire in situations when they’re not supposed to. An excellent outcome. Good on Farokh Engineer.

    Toots, Warne does hold the record for being involved in the most Test wins, and will do so until Ponting collects another dozen or so. But that stat doesn’t really tell us much except that he played in a team that played dominant and aggressive cricket.

    In matches where Warne and McGrath played together, Australia won 71 out of 104. When Warne played but McGrath didn’t, Australia won 21 out of 41.

  5. David – Thanks for that info. I knew that Warne ex McGrath was not as impressive as Warne with McGrath. Naturally, Warne wouldn’t have that record without the other ten blokes, but that doesn’t make it a stat for the sake of it. Warne was a key to that dominant, aggressive cricket and found ways, individually and collectively, to win those matches. And there are the World Cups too.

    Because cricket lends itself to individual records, it’s sometimes too easy to lose context. For example, Sehwag is going to retire with some huge stats, but hasn’t VVS played more match turning knocks? Here, those lining up to ditch Vaughan forget that few English skippers (ex Brearley) have known better how to squeeze wins from small advantages.

    It’ll be a shame for me when Punter gets that record. He’s a class batsman, but has been lucky to develop a front foot (or rather “come forward, then go back if necessary” style) at a time when batsmen are protected by body armour and that there are few out and out quicks. There are times in his career when Punter would have been in a World Select XI and times when he wouldn’t have been. Once Warne took that first wicket (his third Test was it?), he would have been in my All-Time World XI until Sydney 2006.

  6. Toot – I have to agree with you on Ponting’s chink in technique.It gets exaggerated when he is not in good nick.But overall he is a far better balanced player and his technique tightens after the initial period of uncertainity.Hopefully, this bad phase passes off quickly so that we start seeing the free flowing batsman once again.

    As for umpire Pratap’s decision, I think it is with in the rules for him to refer to the third umpire.Now the question is whether Ganguly should really have instigated the umpire to intervene ? When they read out the spirit of cricket, did it not mean to take each other’s word especially in issues relating to catches? I think it is only fair on everyone when the third umpire makes the decision because in many cases where the fielder is making an effort to catch the ball, he may not know in all cases whether he took it clean or not.Take it to the third umpire, whatever be the decision , move on..What I don’t like is the batsmen or bowlers gesticulating after an umpire’s verdict.It is a cheapshot.

  7. Toots, Warne took his first wicket in his debut Test, part of his 1/150. He only burst into the public consciousness with his 7/52 against the Windies in 92/3, which was his fifth Test. And he did actually get dropped from the Australian side once, in the 99 Windies tour.

    Fly, it’s only valid for catches to be referred to the third umpire when both umpires couldn’t see it. It’s not fair to always go to the replay, because the replays almost always show doubt – it’s the one area where the technology does consistently worse than the naked eye. If it becomes commonplace, we get the situation that we got in Australia a few seasons ago, where batsmen would refuse to walk on any remotely low catch. They got given not out something like seventeen times in a row.

  8. David – Thanks. I knew it took Warne a little time to get going. I had forgotten about him being dropped! I guess it happens to the best.

    Fly – I’m with David on the catches. Television seems to show doubt even when everyone (including the batsman) has seen a clean catch. The onfield umpires should make the call and consult the TV umpire if they want to. I would like all run outs / stumpings / no balls called by the TV umpire. At the moment, we have the ludicrous situation of the field umpire rushing into position, blocking the camera, then calling for the replay!

  9. David – You are right in the sense that Rudy signalled the catch was taken. My question is why then did Pratap refer it to third umpire?

    What I meant in earlier post is that the umpiring decisons should be left to umpires and the spirit of cricket should reflect more on
    Appeals
    sledging or lack of it
    accepting umpiring decisions
    Not wasting time on field
    Not instigate crowds
    Not abuse fellow players
    Shake hands with everyone at the end of the match
    Don’t comment negative things on the press
    Be civil to autograph hunters… many more such things

    I will also include walk when the batsmen know they have nicked.

  10. David and flyonthewall: Why would you want to punish an umpire for referring a decision to the third umpire? Is it not up to Pratap to decide whether or not to uphold his own decision, upon further reflection?

    This says nothing about Ganguly’s behaviour which was clearly outside the laws and the spirit of the game. He should have been reported by Pratap himself.

  11. I agree Ganguly should be punished. But Pratap has no right to refer a low catch to the third umpire when his colleague at square leg has seen it.

    Player punishment on this stuff is weak – they don’t care about fines. By suspending the umpire for making an error of procedure, you don’t create the massive media/legal ruckus that would go with a player suspension, and you ensure that the other umpires won’t make the same mistake.

    And if the players know that they won’t get their way in arguing with umpires, then they’ll stop arguing.

  12. dcsiva – “David and flyonthewall: Why would you want to punish an umpire for referring a decision to the third umpire?”

    Why would i want to punish him? Exactly for the reason he did not do his job.On all catches which are not clear, the umpires consult each other.Only when the catches are not clear to either of them, then they refer to third umpire.In this case, Ganguly went straight to Pratap who wilted and called for third umpire without checking what Rudy’s take on the issue.He has no business to do this and should be penalised for dereliction of duty.

    As for Ganguly, he is a big pain in the @rse , earlier we get rid of him better for Indian cricket!!

  13. Nice post Nesta. For me, one of the highlights of this tournament has been watching Warne’s captaincy.

  14. Somewhere, in a shed close by, Shane’s mum is running things.. the laundry, the tea, the rotation of the socks, etc.. probably Simone, too. He knows from whence his great strength comes. Warne as captain is like icing on a very large and fruity cake, and only to be expected. The gorgeous bugger.

    But Warne as coach is a real eye opener for me. How in hell he managed to impart the wisdom of the ages about fielding to his team in such a short time is a miracle and hopefully the last gasp in the long running John Buchanan/ Shane Warne show that has entertained me for many many years. Ganguly Darwinning himself with the added piquancy of Bux being the Kolkata coach must have been a dreamtime songline for Shane since forever.

  15. While I’ve been away for the weekend I see that a terrific thread has emerged and thanks to all for contributing.

    Probably the most satisfying aspect of taking the time to post my work here at 99.94 is reading the informed and respectful comments from the crew that visit. So a big thank you to all the regulars and a warm friendly welcome to Miriam, my nemesis at Fantasy cricket at the T20 World Champs.


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