LONDON: Australia’s Aaron Finch seized his chance to shine among some of cricket’s greatest players with a commanding innings of 181 not out as MCC beat the Rest of the World in the Lord’s bicentenary match yesterday.
Set 294 to win a one-day match marking the 200th anniversary of the ‘home of cricket’, MCC finished on 296 for three with 25 balls to spare against an equally star-studded Rest of the World team.
Finch, already in England playing for Yorkshire, was involved in partnerships with three of the best batsmen cricket has known to cap a memorable Lord’s debut for the 27-year-old Victoria right-hander.
He put on 107 for the first wicket with Indian hero Sachin Tendulkar, cricket’s leading run-scorer in both Tests and one-day internationals.
Finch then added 67 and 122 with two contrasting West Indies left-handers in Brian Lara (23) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (37 not out) respectively.
Tendulkar said it would not be long before Finch, who made a Twenty20 world-record 156 against England at Southampton last year, made his Test debut.
“It was a special innings, I was telling him ‘it was a joy to watch you play’,” Tendulkar said.
“I’m sure we’ll see him in the long form of the game as well.”
However, one sadness for a capacity crowd was that Rest of the World captain Shane Warne was unable to bowl after his first ball batting saw the leg-spin legend suffer a broken right hand when he was struck by an accidental beamer from fast bowler Brett Lee.
Asked if he and his former Australia team-mate were still friends, Warne jokingly said:
“We were.” As for Finch, his fellow Victorian, Warne said:
“He’s a fantastic player, I would love to see him in Australian colours in Test matches.”
Earlier, Yuvraj Singh’s blistering 132 off 134 balls took the Rest of the World to 293 for seven after they had collapsed to 68 for five following four cheap wickets -- Adam Gilchrist, Tamim Iqbal, Kevin Pietersen and Shahid Afridi -- for Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Tendulkar, who only retired in November, gave his adoring fans in a capacity Lord’s crowd plenty to remember him by with the pick of his seven fours a straight drive down the ground off current Australia fast bowler Peter Siddle.
‘The Little Master’, cheered to the echo throughout the match by his adoring fans, thanked the public for their support but said it had been tough going out in the middle.
“Forty-four runs, a little more than how old I am,” the 41-year-old Tendulkar said.
“It shows on me, doesn’t it? I have been enjoying my retirement, doing the things I didn’t get to do for 24 years.”
Tendulkar fell when he bottom edged an intended cut off Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, Test cricket’s most successful bowler.
Left-hander Lara also showed his enduring class with a cracking drive behind point off West Indies paceman Tino Best and a booming drive off medium-pacer Paul Collingwood.
But Durham captain and former England all-rounder Collingwood proved an unlikely bowling hero with two wickets in two balls as Lara was caught behind and India star Rahul Dravid bowled off the inside edge for a golden duck.
Chanderpaul survived the hat-trick ball.
Opening batsman Finch was quickly into his stride with pulled boundaries off Best and Siddle.
He also hammered leg-spinner Afridi for six over deep square leg and lofted Yuvraj’s left-arm spin high over the long-on boundary.
A single off Collingwood saw the 27-year-old Finch to a 96-ball century.
He eventually ended the match with a six off Yuvraj.
In all, Finch faced 145 balls including 23 fours and six sixes in his dazzling knock for the winning team. Pakistan star, Shahid Afridi representing Rest of the was dismissed by compatriot Ajmal for nought. The spinner was the most successful bowler for MCC as he took a tally of four wickets after conceding 45 runs from his ten overs. AFP