When Warne pulled one more trick out of his hat
Flashback IPL 2008
He was on the doorsteps of 40 then. The magic of his craft had already begun to wane. But Shane Warne, the greatest big-match player of our age, performed one more trick for us in the first edition of the Indian Premier League.
Warne was the perfect ring-master, cajoling and coercing a bunch of rookies, who constituted the Rajasthan Royals’ line-up, to title on a memorable night at the Dr DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, five years ago, defeating a fancied outfit like the Chennai Super Kings.
Only Warne could have made players like Goa’s Swapnil Asnodkar, Ravindra Jadeja, then a wide-eyed 19-year old, Yusuf Pathan, gifted but wayward, to break all the imaginable barriers and rub shoulders with some international stars, and compete on equal-footing against some other. A true ‘Hollywood’ material!
Warne and his team then had set a trend during that tournament. The victory of Royals, considered the weakest among the eight franchises, prompted other teams to approach the T20 version with more courage. It fuelled the dreams of some lesser-known players from across India. In short, IPL became the new Promised Land for an aspiring cricketer, and the Indian cricketing landscape would never be the same again.
Those rosy features apart, the inaugural edition also brought to light a few grey areas created by such leagues – domestic in concept but richer and beneficial to players than many international assignments.
On the doping front, Pakistan pacer Mohammad Asif, who appeared for Delhi Daredevils, tested positive for using a banned substance. Though the revelation came much after the IPL, it opened debate about players having a free run in such kind of leagues. It also saw many other cricketing bodies expressing their concern about the possibility of IPL clashing with international fixtures, and their fear about cricketers wanting to play in the league for financial reasons, instead of focusing on their national duties. But once Warne and his boys sustained the exhilaration that Kolkata Knight Riders’ Brendon McCullum (158 n.o., 73b, 10x4, 13x6) provided at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on April 18 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, all other apprehensions evaporated.
Brief scores (final): Chennai Super Kings: 163/5 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 43, MS Dhoni 29 n.o.; Yusuf Pathan 3-22) lt to Rajasthan Royals: 164/7 in 20 overs (Yusuf Pathan 56, Shane Watson 28, Swapnil Asnodkar 28; Albie Morkel 2-25, Muttiah Muralitharan 2-39).