Sachin Tendulkar made everyone at Lord’s nostalgic with some delectable strokes but it was young Aaron Finch, who stole the show with a magnificent 181 as MCC comfortably beat Rest of the World by seven wickets in the ‘Bicentenary Celebrations’ match in London on Saturday.
It was a ‘Union of Legends’ as the likes of Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Shane Warne once again put on their cricketing gears.
While Tendulkar, who made 41 and Lara, who chipped in with 23, showed their class and touch of genius in their short stay, it was Finch’s century that helped MCC overtake Rest of the World’s commanding 293 for seven with 27 balls to spare.
Finch’s 145 ball innings had 23 fours and six sixes as he overshadowed India discard Yuvraj Singh’s attractive 132 for the Rest of the World.
The only disdappointment in the contest was public being robbed a chance to watch a Tendulkar vs Warne duel as the Aussie legend fractured his right hand trying to evade a Brett Lee beamer.
It was vintage Tendulkar as he square drove Peter Siddle and hit him for a straight drive. A cover drive off Paul Collingwood was sheer class.
He got a little too cheeky with his stroke-making and it proved to be his undoing as he was bowled by Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. His 41 off 44 balls had seven fours.
Finch then carried on and put on another 67 runs for the second wicket with Brian Lara. The latter didn’t look too comfortable in the middle and departed in the 30th over, after scoring 23 runs off 38 balls, including 3 fours.
Earlier Yuvraj made a strokeful 132 to power the Rest of the World XI to 293 for seven in 50 overs.
Electing to bat in overcast conditions, the Shane Warne-led side slumped to 68 for 5 in the 12th over when Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal (4/45) bagged four wickets but soon Yuvraj and Paul Collingwood stitched together a 131-run sixth-wicket partnership to put the innings back on track.
The opening combo of Virender Sehwag and Adam Gilchrist had given ROW a brisk 54-run start in 6.5 overs but Brett Lee (2/55) cleaned up the Indian dasher for 22 and then Ajmal took over.
Ajmal’s country-mate Umar Gul though sustained an injury and hobbled off after bowling two overs post sharing the new ball with Lee.
Gilchrist displayed his trademark pull and cut shots as he scored 22 runs off 24 balls, including 5 fours before being stumped off Ajmal.
The champion off-spinner then trapped Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal (1) LBW, got England’s Kevin Pietersen (10) stumped and finally bowled his team-mate Shahid Afridi for a two-ball duck. But strangely Tendulkar took Ajmal off the attack after his third over, probably to give the crowd some entertainment in the exhibition tie.
Collingwood scored 40 runs off 64 balls, hitting 3 fours, but it was Yuvraj who really put on the fireworks. He brought up his half-century in the 25th over of the innings, off only 53 balls and including 4 fours as well as 2 sixes.
Yuvraj didn’t let up, perhaps trying to make an impression on the Indian selectors, who will soon be gathering to select an ODI side for the ongoing England tour.
He brought up his hundred off 114 balls in the 45th over. In doing so, he put on 84 runs for the seventh wicket with Peter Siddle (34 not out, 32 balls, 4 fours). He added 32 more runs off another 20 balls faced and was finally dismissed off Tendulkar (1/33) in the penultimate over. Warne (3 not out) was the other unbeaten batsman.