Shane Warne had a little chat with Rahul Dravid, who ran in to say something to him. Warne scratched his chin and surveyed his field. He waved to his fielders, adjusted their positions a little. A banner in the stands read ‘Bowling Shane', a relic from the 1990s. James Franklin waited on strike. Warne made some more adjustments to the field.
He smiled as he walked in, one final time.
Just like Anil Kumble's final delivery in a Test match, it was a full toss, on off-stump. He had tried too hard. Franklin drove it to long-off for a single. The fielder collected the ball and threw it in. Warne took the return on his knees. He then held a thumbs-up to the fielder. He was done. It was his final delivery in competitive cricket. A journey that started 20 years ago lasted over 92,000 deliveries and produced 1851 wickets came to an end at the Wankhede Stadium today.
His final victim was Rohit Sharma, Mumbai's top-scorer today. The dismissal had all the flair of the master deceiver Warne is, even four years after his retirement from Test cricket. He threw it up, seduced Rohit into the big shot, and then turned it away past the swing of his bat for the easiest stumping. Warne had a huge grin on his face after the wicket.
He nearly had Rohit off the first ball of the over, the final of Mumbai's innings. Rohit heaved a flighted ball to cow-corner where Ashok Menaria couldn't even get his hands around the ball properly, possibly worried by his proximity to the ropes. He followed that ball up with a massive googly - albeit a short-pitched one - which Franklin slapped over the head of the cover fielder for four.
This was the last time Sachin Tendulkar and Warne would be pitted against each other. But like all their previous IPL contests, this too turned out to be a tame affair. Warne bowled to Tendulkar seven times, conceded seven runs, and managed to get the edge of his bat once. Tendulkar attacked him twice - one a slog down the ground for two, followed by a cut past short third-man for two more.
At 41, after four IPL seasons all of which were after his retirement from top-level sport, Warne finished only seven wickets short of RP Singh's tally of 64.
No wonder he could terrorise batsmen the way he did in his youth.
Yahoo! Cricket's special coverage of Shane Warne's final cricket match.
- Prem Panicker: Warne: Over and Out Part I | Part II
- Sanjay Dixit: A Flawed Genius
- Warne's Career Highlights
- Warne-Tendulkar Rivalry: Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object
- The Best Tributes to Warne
In The News
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- Shane Warne: a last farewell to my cricketing career [The Telegraph]
- Warne takes final bow [BBC]
- Cricket's great teaser bowls his final ball [Guardian]
Warne's Final Cricket Game