Aaron Finch scored an unbeaten 181 © AFP
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Jul 5, 2014
The young Aaron Finch dazzled in the battle of the legends as his innings of 181 not out took the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to an easy seven-wicket win over the Rest of the World (RoW) XI. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara too gave a glimpse of their mastery, but it was a day when Saeed Ajmal and Yuvraj Singh also made a mark. All in all, it was a memorable game and would be talked about as one that rolled back time to the bygone era.
In a game that was supposed to be the legends’ party, some of the contemporary players shined and made a huge impact. At first it was Saeed Ajmal, who took four wickets in no time to reduce RoW to 68 for five in 12 overs after they chose to bat. And then it was Yuvraj who smashed 132 to take RoW to a good 293 for seven. Though it was a good total, Finch’s combative ton made easy work of the whole affair.
Firstly, Yuvraj’s knock was one to savour. With Ajmal out of the attack, he took on the other spinners and smashed them with disdain. He was using his feet, smashing to mid-wicket and also sweeping with power. His partnership of 131 with Paul Collingwood is what rescued RoW and took them to a good score. Not to forget a crucial 33 not out at the end by Peter Siddle as Yuvraj made his way to a ton. It was Yuvraj at his best and an innings that will help his confidence.
Through the first innings, it was evident that this was more of a friendly. There were smiles even when some erstwhile rivals got the better of one another. Ajmal too could afford one when a catch was dropped off his bowling, which could have given him his fifth wicket. And then, Brian Lara was casual while attempting a catch and let it fall in no-man’s land. However, there was a disaster in the last over as a Brett Lee beamer hit Shane Warne on the hand and he was ruled out for the remained of the game, denying the fans a glimpse of the Tendulkar-Warne contest.
There was a lot of anticipation when the MCC innings started. However, it was Finch who took control from ball one and made a huge impact. Tendulkar too played his part with a few great strokes through the off-side. It rekindled memories of the yesteryear and to make it even better, he thumped Siddle down the ground for that perfect straight-drive.
But, it was Finch’s day. He smashed the spinners with power and carted the pacers through the line. It was a great exhibition of batting as he made it look very easy. Tendulkar though was bowled for 44 by Muttiah Muralitharan. Lara came out and was getting warmed up. He played a few trademark shots through the off-side to the delight of the crowd. However, in the 30th over, Collingwood had Lara caught behind and then bowled Rahul Dravid first ball.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul came along and was pushed into oblivion by Finch. The Aussie kept smashing it around the ground and raced past his 150. Towards the end, both batsmen dealt in boundaries and achieved the target with 25 balls to spare.
Rest of the World XI 293 for 7 in 50 overs (Yuvraj Singh 132, Paul Collingwood 42, Peter Siddle 33*; Saeed Ajmal 4 for 45) lost to Marylebone Cricket Club 296 for 3 in 45.5 overs (Aaron Finch 181*, Sachin Tendulkar 44, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 37; Paul Collingwood 2 for 25) by 7 wickets.