HOUSTON: Shane Warne's Warriors walloped Sachin Tendulkar's Blasters by 57 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Cricket All Stars Series here today.
Tendulkar's decision to put the opposition in to bat backfired as game's heavyweights Kumar Sangakkara (70 off 30),Jacques Kallis (45 off 23) and Ricky Ponting (41 off 16) tore apart the equally celebrated Warriors' bowling attack to smash262 for five in 20 overs.
The likes of Tendulkar (33 off 20), Virender Sehwag (16 off 8), Shaun Pollock (55 off 22) Brian Lara (19 off 21) and Sourav Ganguly (12 off 12) enthralled a sizable crowd with their brief knocks at Minute Maid Park, otherwise a Baseball venue, but it was not enough to scale down the mammoth target, ending at 208 for eight in 20 overs. The 'legends' now travel to Los Angeles for the final game of the series on Saturday. The opening match, won by Warne's men convincingly, was played in New York on November 7. Though the match's outcome was not that significant considering the games are a mere exhibition, the famed former cricketers from both teams displayed fierce competitive spirit.
The competitive zeal was evident when the dream opening pair of Tendulkar and Sehwag walked into the middle. What made the contest more mouthwatering was Wasim Akram opening the bowling for Warriors and swinging the ball in from the word go.
However, Sehwag still found a way to break free by flicking the last bowl of the over way beyond the square leg fence. The recently-retired Sehwag looked in ominous touch, as it was the case in New York, hitting his second six over cover in the following over bowled by Ajit Agarkar. And amusingly, he was belting it out of the park while crooning an old Hindi song. He played a rare dot ball after smashing Agarkar before playing on to his stumps.
It was now Tendulkar's turn to use the long handle. The master blaster hammered three fours and couple of sixes before his old foe Saqlain Mushtaq found his stumps with a fast off spinner.
Ganguly, playing his first game of the series, was expectedly rusty to start with but managed a four and a big hit in his run a ball innings.
Tendulkar, whose promoting cricket in America alongside Warne, thanked the spectators for turning up in big numbers."Nearly 28,000 people turned up for the match and this is just fantastic. Hopefully it would be a hat-trick of good crowd response when we go to Los Angeles. I am thankful to the people for turning up to support us," he said. Warne too appreciated the crowd response. "I am not really surprised by the response because when me and Sachin sat down to conceptualise this league, we had imagined a good response and I am glad that it is turning out to be true," said the spin legend.
"The way we have been treated has been fantastic. The fans have created a great atmosphere. Today it was some special batting from some class players. It shows you what a good pitch it was. Sri Lankan people will be asking to see if we could get Sangakkara back. He played beautifully today.
"At the end of the day, it is nice to win but it isn't the case. The cricketing cliche of cricket is the winnerstands out today, the outfield and roof was wonderful," Warned added. Sangakkara, who was the Man of the Match for his blazing knock, said: "It was a lot of fun, thank you Houston for the hospitality. Lot of credit to Sachin and Warney, they are pioneers on the field and they are breaking new round off the field. All outstanding players, legends of the game, the crowd participation has been unbelievable.
Players have given their all on the field."Participation of kids is vital for the growth of the game but for us, it has been humbling. Hopefully the game catches on in the US," said the Sri Lankan.