Cricket All-Stars shine at Dodger Stadium

November 15, 2015

Photo by: Hamid Latiff

Los Angeles, CA - For cricket-lovers in Southern California (predominantly the South Asian community but more than a few others) Saturday night was a truly special treat. A group of select cricket legends from the past two decades played their third Twenty20 exhibition match on U.S soil at Dodger Stadium, playing high-level cricket on the historic baseball field for the first time ever.

"Sachin's Blasters" versus "Warne's Warriors"

The stars were split up into two squads, with legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar captaining one side against a team led by Australian spinner Shane Warne. The Twenty20 format meant the match would last approximately three hours or so.

On this night, Tendulkar's team won the toss and started off the batting. To the misfortune of some of the late-arriving crowd, the fireworks began right away. (Note: Why on Earth would they schedule this event at 6:30pm on Saturday evening? Didn't they realize they were dealing with typically late-arriving South Asians, LA traffic, Dodger Stadium parking, and a Southern California crowd?)

An explosive opening stint by Tendulkar and fellow Indian batsman Virender Sehwag had the modest but boisterous crowd of twenty to thirty thousand out of their chairs. Sehwag, who started off the night with a first-ball 6, was eventually caught in the 4th over after scoring 27 runs. By that point Sachin's Blasters were already off to a flying start. When Sri Lankan star Mahela Jayawardene came to the pitch, the runs continued to pile up. After only 5 overs, Sachin's Blasters were 77-1.

A huge total seemed to be in the cards for Tendulkar's side, until the Little Master was stumped in the 10th over after scoring 56 - it would be the top score for any batsman on the night. After Jayawardene fell a couple of overs later on 41 the innings suddenly started to stagnate for the batting side.

Though former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly would enter and go on to score 50, the run rate slowed considerably in the latter part of the innings.

Effective bowling from South African Jacques Kallis proved to be critical in turning the tide, as the all-rounder gave up a meager 17 runs in his 3 overs of bowling. Also particularly effective was New Zealand's leftarm spinner Daniel Vettori who picked up three wickets.

Sachin's Blasters ultimately finished with a total of 219, a respectable but reachable total.

After the innings break, West Indian fast bowler Courtney Ambrose came out firing and clean bowled former English captain Michael Vaughn on the very first ball of the Warriors inning.

Thereafter Australian batsmen Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds settled things down and had Warne's side at 50-1 after 4 overs. Yet when Hayden fell after scoring just 12 runs and Symonds shortly followed after, it seemed that the Blasters had taken a decided advantage in the match.

Enter Sri Lankan star batsman Kumar Sangakkara...who proceeded to blitz the Blasters hapless bowling attack for a quick-fire 42 runs on 21 balls to change the momentum back to the Warriors.

Even arguably the greatest spin-bowler of all time, Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, was no match for Sangakarra on this pitch. Though Muralitharan had previously seen some success against the Aussie batsmen, Sangakarra found the turn just to his liking - proceeding to smash the ball around the park.

Sangakkara eventually lost his wicket in the 11th over after 42 runs. At that point the Warriors were 110-4 after 10.2 overs.

While the batting was creative and masterful throughout, in truth the fielding was subpar all night long with rare exceptions. There were about a half-dozen dropped catches, some of which were laughable - Virender Sehwag's absolute whiff on South African Jonty Rhodes in the 12th over that went for 4 comes most immediately to mind.

With English bowler Graeme Swann keeping the Warriors offense muted for a bit, the Blasters seemed to temporarily regain control. Swann allowed only 21 runs in his 4 overs and also took two wickets.

When Rhodes was caught after just 17 runs the Warriors were 131-5 after 14 overs, seemingly far from the needed total of 219 with only 6 overs remaining.

No problem. Not when you have superstars like Kallis and former Australian captain Ricky Ponting coming to the crease this late in an innings. Neither of the experienced batsmen had any problem smacking about a surprisingly ineffective Glen McGrath.

When ANOTHER critical drop by the Blasters in the 17th over, this time by VVS Laxman, gave Ponting new life, the Warriors began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Kallis ultimately blasted his way for 47 runs until getting out in the final over. But by that time he and Ponting had steered the ship for a likely victory

In dramatic fashion, Shane Warne hit a 6 off Sehwag to win it for the Warriors on the penultimate ball of the innings.

The win completed the clean sweep for Warne's Warriors over Sachin's Blasters, 3-0, having also won the matches played in New York and Houston.

Kallis was awarded the Man of the Match for his masterful bowling and batting this night.

For his impressive 153 runs over the course of the three matches, Sangakarra was justly awarded the Man of the Series award.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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