Shane Watson took it upon himself to send fellow Australian Shane Warne off on a triumphant note - and delayed the Mumbai Indians’ quest for a semi-final berth in the process - as the Rajasthan Royals racked up a convincing 10-wicket victory in Friday’s Indian Premier League showdown at the Wankhede Stadium
The big-hitting Aussie, with a couple of token hits from Rahul Dravid along for the ride, made entirely light work of a 134-run target.
The right-handed Watson was utterly savage in his approach and no bowler was spared, not even the tournament’s top wicket-taker in Lasith Malinga, who fetched his fair share of sixes over the midwicket fence at the hands of the belligerent opener.
Struck near on the jaw by a fierce Malinga bouncer toward the start of his knock, Watson hit back in typically swashbuckling fashion to shrug off an otherwise torrid 2011 IPL campaign.
Heading into the match with just 241 runs in 10 knocks for the Royals this year, he had it all to do in the men in blue’s last game of the competition.
And that he most certainly did, cranking half a dozen sixes and nine mandatory boundaries across his 47-delivery blitz.
With Dravid’s unbroken 43 complementing Watson’s 89 not out to perfection, their 134-run alliance at a rate of 10.17 to the over brought on victory with all of 41 balls to spare.
Man of the Match Watson’s blaze was fitting in that it gave Warne, playing his last game of the Twenty20 contest after four lucrative seasons, a victorious goodbye at the end of an otherwise torrid campaign, which saw the former champions win just six of their 14 games.
Earlier single-figure failures from Tirumalasetti Suman and Ambati Rayudu left Sachin Tendulkar (31) and Rohit Sharma (58) to pick up the pieces.
Half-centurion Rohit enjoyed a rearguard 48-run stand with Tendulkar, who was offered a lifeline on eight when umpire Rudi Koertzen failed to raise his finger to a plumb lbw call, and then tucked in for a combined 53 runs alongside Kieron Pollard (20).
Rajasthan endured a shoddy day in the field, with Ross Taylor dropping West Indian dangerman Pollard on seven and Ashok Menaria grassing Sharma on the long-on fence on 57. One-man army Watson, though, rose above the errors in the deep to bag figures of three for 19.
While Friday’s result afforded former log bottomfeeders Rajasthan elevation to sixth in the 10-team standings, but no chance of qualifying for the play-offs, Mumbai have been handed a must-win situation against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday and continue to cling on in calculated hope that fellow semi-final contenders Kings XI Punjab lose to the Deccan Chargers on Saturday.