It was supposed to be an exhibition match to show off some of cricket’s greatest ever players, but a stunning spell from Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal and an impressive century to Yuvraj Singh showed them all up.
Brett Lee picked up two wickets as the Rest of the World team, who were boosted by a typically entertaining Adam Gilchrist cameo (29 off 21), posted 7-293 from their 50 overs – a competitive target for the Marylebone Cricket Club to chase.
But it was Yuvraj’s 132 which propelled the ROW to a competitive total, and a brilliant 15-ball spell which secured four wickets for Ajmal (4-45) in the opening hour of play, which stole the show.
A capacity crowd had gathered to watch some of cricket’s all-time champions don the whites one more time, in celebration of the bicentenary of the Lord’s Cricket Ground.
The records of the players on display was incredible – three of the five highest run-getters allowed for a combined 98,151 Test runs from the 22 players involved, while the two most prolific wicket-takers, Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan, provided many of the 2,940 Test scalps.
Ajmal, a relative youngster at 36 years among the likes of Brian Lara (45), Warne (44), Adam Gilchrist (42) and Muralitharan (42), ripped open the match with a devastating spell.
For most, this is a relaxed 50-over friendly clash at the home of cricket – an approach highlighted by the numbers flashing up on the radar gun when noted speedsters Lee and Shaun Tait were ambling in.
Tait, who not too long ago was among the quickest bowlers on the planet, barely sent a ball down any faster than 130km/h – roughly 30 slower than we’re used to seeing from him.
And Gilchrist showed no mercy to his former Test teammate, taking 17 runs from Tait’s opening over en route to 29 off 21, which included six fours.
But Ajmal didn’t get the memo to take it easy.
Gilchrist’s innings came to an end thanks to a sharp stumping by England’s Chris Read off Ajmal, the first of four wickets in 15 balls while conceding just five runs.
He ran through the ROW’s top order, trapping Tamim Iqbal (1) lbw, having England renegade Kevin Pietersen (10) stumped and bowling countryman Shahid Afridi for a duck, reducing Shane Warne’s men to 5-68.
Yuvraj and Paul Collingwood (40 off 64), both aided by Sachin Tendulkar’s generous decision to remove Ajmal from the attack after four overs, then combined to put on 131 from 150 balls for the sixth wicket, pushing the total towards respectability before Peter Siddle (33) also cashed in late.
Yuvraj gave the crowd what they came to see, belting eight fours and six sixes – including one towering slog sweep which cleared the fences and nearly escaped the ground.