(From Left) Aaron Finch, Saeed Ajmal and Yuvraj Singh… It was their day at Lord’s © Getty Images
The match between Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Rest of the World (RoW) XI gave the fans a chance to see their heroes Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Rahul Dravid, Brett Lee and others in action. However, while most of the legends did get a chance to give the fans something to cheer about, the contemporary stars —Yuvraj Singh, Saeed Ajmal and Aaron Finch — stood out, writes Shiamak Unwalla.
The sight of Adam Gilchrist — albeit with a rather strange-looking camera headpiece on his helmet — and Virender Sehwag walking out to the middle was both absolutely perfect and thoroughly wrong. “Gilly” and “Viru” were never pals. They might have been cordial, but never like Kevin Pietersen and Yuvraj Singh. They did not have any noticeable rivalry on the field either — Pietersen and Shane Warne come to mind now. However, after the pair added 54 in under seven overs, it looked like they had been batting together all their lives.
Just when it seemed like the old warhorses were going to gallop away to glory, Brett Lee bowled a straight, quick ball. Perhaps if Sehwag was five years younger, it would have been his sixth boundary. Unfortunately for the fans, his fabled hand-eye coordination wasn’t at its peak; he was bowled for an attractive 22.
The focus was entirely on Sehwag and Gilchrist till this point. Sachin Tendulkar called upon the services of Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, and the effects were immediate. Rest of the World (ROW) XI crashed from 54 for one to 68 for five in the space of three overs by the tweaker. Ajmal was, quite simply, unplayable. The way he was bowling, it was almost like watching Warne and Murali bamboozle batsmen at their best. With just Yuvraj — out of form, past his prime, — and Paul Collingwood at the crease, RoW needed a small miracle.
That miracle was given by Tendulkar, when he chose not to give Ajmal an extended spell; perhaps he thought it would make for poor viewing if they chased down the score in a few overs. In any case, the next 25 overs of the game belonged to Yuvraj. He proved once again that he is very much a prospect for India. He was completely focused, but was visibly enjoying himself — the picture of him touching Tendulkar’s feet while taking a run has gone viral — and this helped him to get into a zone that India will be hoping he stays in for a very long time.
Yuvraj’s excellent 134-ball 132 guided RoW to a strong 293. It was not likely to cause much of trouble to MCC though. Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Rahul Dravid and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were in the team after all. And also Aaron Finch, the man who was virtually forgotten in all the promotional photos,features, and build-ups. Finch decided to remind the world that he too was in MCC, in great style.
Opening the batting, Finch absolutely massacred the bowlers — missing Shane Warne to injury — on his way to a belligerent 181. Where Yuvraj was classy, Finch was brutal; 23 fours and six sixes showed that much. Eventually, MCC cantered to a win, but the heroes were neither Tendulkar nor Dravid; Warne nor Murali. However, as famous commentator would say, “ultimately cricket was the winner.”
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)