|Sachin Tendulkar walks back to the pavilion after being dismissed for 15. (PTI)
New Delhi: The Kotla has witnessed many historic moments since 1883. Sunil Gavaskar scored his memorable 29th Test century in 1983, and in 1999, Anil Kumble captured 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan here.
Sunday was yet another momentous day for the capital’s cricket centre when two of India’s icon cricketers took the field one last time in coloured clothing in the Champions League T20 final.
In fact, for Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid, it will be the final appearance in any form of cricket. Sachin Tendulkar has already announced he would no more be seen in T20 cricket for Mumbai Indians.
In the end, the spectators got to watch some fiery batting from both the teams with Mumbai Indians bagging the Champions League T20 for the second time defeating Rajasthan Royals by 33 runs.
This was a grand double for Rohit Sharma and Co. They had earlier emerged champions in IPL-VI.
Chasing Mumbai Indians’ 202 for six, Rajasthan Royals did their best to live up to the challenge but folded up for 169 in 18.5 overs.
In fact, the Royals looked like sailing smoothly as long as Sanju Samson (60 off 33 balls) and Ajinkya Rahane (65 off 47 balls) were at the wicket. The duo put on 109 runs for the second wicket in 67 balls. But then came the devastating one over from yet another veteran in the circuit, Harbhajan Singh, which left the Royals clueless.
Bowling the 17th over when the Royals needed 48 from 24 balls, Harbhajan removed three batsmen — Rahane, Stuart Binny (10) and Kevon Cooper (4) — to turn the tie in favour of Mumbai Indians. When TV umpire C. Shamsuddin declared Cooper stumped by Karthik after much deliberation, Tendulkar was seen running to embrace the spinner. Man of the Match Harbhajan finished with figures of four for 32.
But for once, the scoreboard and individual efforts became rather irrelevant for the capacity crowd at the Kotla. They knew the two great cricketers would not play here again and savoured every moment. The crowd applauded their every action and gave the duo standing ovations when they left the field.
For the 21 minutes Tendulkar batted, the atmosphere was simply electric. The crowd was on their feet when he came out to open the innings with Dwayne Smith. They roared every time Tendulkar faced the ball and the cheer was deafening whenever he sent the ball past the fence.
Tendulkar struck three sparkling boundaries in his 13-ball knock for 15, his last in coloured clothing. Each shot had the stamp of class written all over them. He had a nervous first over when Shane Watson was able to beat him on a couple of occasions.
He opened up in the third over with a boundary off James Faulkner, a smooth drive past cover that had the fielders watching in awe.
The fifth over from Watson turned out to be an eventful one. The second delivery from the Australian went past the fine leg for a four and the next one sped past mid-off to the fence as Tendulkar hit it with perfect timing. But before the cheers could die down, Watson sent Tendulkar’s off stump flying with the next ball.
For a few seconds there was absolute silence all around the ground as Tendulkar began his journey back to the pavilion in his usual brisk pace.
Thereafter suddenly, began the thunderous applause that stayed well after the master batsman reached the dugout. His teammates also gave him a guard of honour. Tendulkar stopped, looked around, and then, waved his bat. The spectators were no less generous on Rahul Dravid, who lasted only two deliveries after coming to bat at No.8.
Looking for quick runs at that stage, Dravid was bowled by a yorker from Nathan Coulter-Nile.
As he was leaving, Tendulkar and his teammates rushed to shake hands with him. The clapping that began from the stands continued for a couple of minutes.
Earlier, Mumbai Indians innings actually began from the 13th over onwards. In the last eight overs, they slammed 120 runs with skipper Rohit Sharma (33) and Glen Maxwell (37) opening up to maul the Royals bowling.
While Rohit’s 33 came off only 14 balls with the help of three fours and two sixes, Maxwell, too, consumed only 14 deliveries to hit four boundaries and two sixes.