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Finch’s 181 powers MCC to easy win despite Yuvraj ton

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Celebrating 200 years of Lord’s definitely proved to be a runfest as Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh starred on the ‘legend-filled’ day with individual tons as Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) beat Rest of the World Xl (RoW) by 7 wickets.

RoW skipper Shane Warne won the toss and elected to bat first as Yuvraj Singh responded with a fine century to help his side post a target of 294 on the board. However, the MCC batsmen eased to the total thanks to Aaron Finch who played most of his 145-ball 181 in overdrive mode.

Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag, two of the world’s deadliest batsmen in their careers, opened the batting for RoW and they were up against a fiery Brett Lee and Umar Gul first up. Gilchrist looked the same old attacking player as he raced to 29 off 21 balls with four consecutive boundaries off express pacer and fellow countryman Shaun Tait as RoW posted 50 on the board inside just 6 overs. Sehwag looked steady at the other end before Lee knocked over his middle stump for 22, leaving the scoreboard showing 54-1.

Experienced Bangladeshi batsman Tamim Iqbal joined Gilchrist in the middle and the duo were soon up against a spin induced bowling change in Pakistani ace off spinner Saeed Ajmal. Ajmal immediately got down to business as he struck in his first over as Gilchrist was beautifully beaten outside off-stump only to be stumped by keeper Chris Read, following which he trapped Tamim in front of wicket for just 1 in his very next over, leaving RoW on a shaky 59-3. Tamim was rather unlucky to be given out having inside edged the ball onto his pad.

Yuvraj Singh joined Kevin Pietersen in the center as the two new batsman looked to build a partnership. However, Pietersen’s stay was cut short as he was foxed by a doosra from Ajmal who picked up a third wicket in three successive overs. The Pakistani off spinner then dismissed his country’s most popular cricketer Shahid Afridi for a duck 2 balls later as RoW were left reeling at 68-5 in 12 overs despite a good start. Ajmal’s figures read 4 for 5 in 3 overs.

MCC were closing in on RoW’s batting tail but Yuvraj Singh and Paul Collingwood had other plans as the two batsmen strung together a partnership that pulled their side out of trouble. Collingwood looked his usual self, the busy player that he always is, picking up those singles and keeping the scoreboard ticking along while Yuvraj delighted the crowd with his trade-mark drives through the covers, his slog sweeps for six to go along with them. Lee was brought back into the attack and soon enough ended the 131-run stand as Collingwood was caught by Rahul Dravid in the slips for 40, with the total one run shy of 200.

Yuvraj brought up his stroke-filled century in the company of Peter Siddle, who got some important runs too. Sachin finally came on to bowl due to an injury to Umar Gul, and with Yuvraj going after him, he and Siddle added 84 for the 7th wicket. However, Yuvraj was dismissed by Tendulkar in the 49th over in a bid to up the ante toward the end as RoW finished with 293-7 with Siddle unbeaten on a valuable 32-ball 33. However, Shane Warne was hit on the arm by a beamer from Brett Lee, thus rendering him unfit to take the field in the second innings due to a fractured wrist, thus meaning the much anticipated Warne vs Tendulkar show was not to be.

Aaron Finch walked out to bat with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar in a bid to get MCC off to a good start to the run-chase. Peter Siddle took the new ball and started off well, bowling two maiden overs first up. However, Tino Best went for runs at the other end as Finch looked in the mood for a big one. Rain stopped proceedings for a while, though the batsmen weren’t too affected by it once play resumed as MCC brought up 50 runs in 8 overs. Tendulkar delighted the crowd with some flicks and punches as he played second-fiddle to Finch, who brought up his half century as he blazed away boundaries and the two batsmen took MCC to 100-0 in the 17th over.

Sri Lanka’s legendary spinner Muralitharan soon left the crowd buzzing as he got Tendulkar to slice one onto the stumps for a solid 44, as RoW had their first breakthrough. While one legend walked back, another walked in in the form of Brian Charles Lara. Lara’s trade-mark high bat-lift sprung into action as he timed some delightful boundaries. However, Finch was going great guns the other end and posed a major concern for stand-in skipper Adam Gilchrist.

Paul Collingwood brought RoW back into the game as he dismissed Lara for 23 runs, following which he bowled Rahul Dravid for a first ball duck to leave himself on a hattrick as MCC sat on 174-3 in 30 overs. Shiv Chanderpaul walked out to bat next and averted the hat-trick. Meanwhile at the other end Finch brought up his hundred in 96 balls. The RoW bowlers looked desperate for another wicket though Fich left them with no chance as he started scoring at an even faster pace with Chanderpaul looking sedate in a bid to hold up his end. MCC raced to the finish line with 25 balls to spare as Aaron Finch finished proceedings with a six off Yuvraj Singh to end on a massive 181 in an unbeaten 122-run stand with Chanderpaul who had reached 37.

The crowd were left extremely satisfied with plenty of runs flowing off the bat, especially on a day that showcased so many legends pitted against each other on the cricket field. Never mind the winner or the loser. Cricket just celebrated its legendary ground’s 200-year long legacy in fine style. And Lord’s just received a birthday gift to be cherished.

Mini Scorecard:

Rest of the World Xl, 293-7 (50 overs, 5.86rpo)

Y Singh 132 (134)  S Ajmal 4-45(10)

P Collingwood 40 (64)  B lee2-55 (10)

Marylebone Cricket Club, 296-3 (45.5 overs, 6.45 rpo)

Aaron Finch 181 (145)   P Collingwood 2-25 (7)

S Tendulkar 44 (45)   Muralitharan 1-55 (10)