Kumar Sangakkara hammered a 30-ball to guide the Warriors to a dominant 262/5, helping them win by 57 runs.
Kumar Sangakkara plays a shot during his innings of 70 off 30 balls © Getty Images
Sachin’s Blasters and Warne’s Warriors squared off in the second Twenty20 match at the Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas on Thursday, with the latter pulling off a dominant 57-run victory to clinch the series 2-0. It was an even more lop-sided contest compared to the first match at the Citi Field in New York, with the Warriors setting a near-impossible 263-run target before the Blasters finished on 205 for 8, with most of the runs coming from the middle and lower order. Amit Banerjee picks five key moments from the contest that shaped the course of the match. READ: Warne’s Warriors hand 57-run loss to Sachin’s Blasters to clinch series 2-0
Many had expected Kumar Sangakkara, who had only retired from the game three months ago during the home series against India, to shine with the bat in the Cricket All Stars Series in the United States of America (USA). While the left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman from Sri Lanka was dismissed by a short-pitched Shoaib Akhtar delivery in the first game for a score of 41, he hammered the opposition attack to amass 70 off just 30 deliveries to guide his side to a commanding total of 262. UPDATES: Sachin’s Blasters vs Warne’s Warriors, Cricket All Stars Series 2015, 2nd T20 at Houston
The Blasters got off to a completely different start from the first game, with Virender Sehwag barely getting any runs before getting bowled for 16. Sachin Tendulkar tried to forge partnerships with Sourav Ganguly and Brian Lara, before departing for 33, seven more than his score in the previous game. The Blasters managed to cross the 200-run mark despite the brilliant bowling performances by the spin duo of Saqlain Mushtaq and Shane Warne, with Shaun Pollock leading the lower-order charge with a 22-ball 55. A six by Muttiah Muralitharan guided them to 205 for 8.
While it was mostly a one-sided contest, there were several moments that helped shape the course of the match and led to its eventual outcome, which are listed in the following points in chronological order:
1. Graeme Swann and Glenn McGrath dismiss their countrymen: There were several changes among the personnel in the second game, with the likes of Glenn McGrath, Graeme Swann, Michael Vaughan, Lance Klusener, etc. getting to play a game. After Vaughan and Hayden hammered McGrath and Akhtar in the initial overs to bring up the 50-run opening stand in no time, Swann managed to trap Vaughan lbw, before Hayden got an inside edge off a wide-pitched McGrath delivery, with the Englishman and the Australian getting their respective compatriot.
2. Kumar Sangakkara’s whirlwind innings blows the blasters away: No sooner had the initial wickets fallen wickets fallen, when Sanga got into the exquisite form that he is known for, dispatching the ball all over the park with utmost ease! What helped the Warriors’ case were the vital contributions from Jacques Kallis (45 off 23), who made up for his disappointing score in the first match, and Ricky Ponting (41 off 16), with Sanga sharing 91 (off 43 balls) and 69-run (off 23 balls) partnerships respectively.
It was a standout knock from the man who is still in supreme form, and can dominate any bowling attack in the world at the moment should he choose to come out of retirement.
3. Virender Sehwag bowled by Ajit Agarkar: The Nawab of Najafgarh, who had set the Citi Field on fire in the opening encounter in New York, Sehwag was struggling in the initial overs, especially against the pace and swing of Wasim Akram. Ajit Agarkar came in to bowl the second over, and nearly dismissed Tendulkar off the first ball of the over. Sehwag smashed Agarkar for a six off the fourth ball of the over for a massive six, before Agarkar had the last laugh by castling Sehwag for 16, with the batsman playing the wide-pitched delivery onto his stumps.
4. Saqlain Mushtaq bamboozles Sachin Tendulkar: Perhaps the most defining moment of the match. Sachin and Lara were batting together (a once in a lifetime moment), and were beginning to gathering steam with the occasional boundary. It was crucial for the two masters to form a major partnership, before Saqlain Mushtaq got Sachin dismissed with one of his old beauties — pitched along middle and off and cramped the batsman for room — that ultimately deflected off the batsman’s pad and crashed onto the stumps. Major disappointment for the crowd and for the Master Blaster himself, with Saqlain jubilant after the dismissal, appearing to have prepared a special delivery for Tendulkar that the latter failed to pick.
5. Shaun Pollock’s brave cameo goes in vain: The battle, as well as the war, seemed to be lost for the Blasters following the departure of South African all-rounder Lance Klusener, with the scorecard reading 130 for 7. That’s when Pollock, along with Graeme Swann, decided to give the fans something to cheer about. Pollock, who did not quite impress with the ball in the last couple of games, managed to time and connect with the ball with precision to smash seven sixes and a four to race away to a 22-ball 55. His cameo, combined with that of Swann (22 off eight) and a six by Muttiah Muralitharan off the last ball of the innings helped the Blasters finish on a respectable 205 for 8.
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