At one point yesterday evening, when the clouds rolled over and the light faded beneath a mighty rainstorm, it looked as if the playing of any cricket was a distant pipe-dream. Rain streaked across the windows of the space-age media centre above the Edrich Stand at Lord's Cricket Ground and left those that had taken their seats on the upper tier running for cover. All this with only 2 overs on the board.
After a delay of around an hour the halftime entertainment was brought forward and both entertained and amused the crowd until play resumed. Entertainment included Apache Indian, Escala and a fat Asian bloke that looked like Neil Fox.
Rajasthan Royals were first into bat and made reasonably steady progress, but Middlesex seemed to be pinning them back to around six and a half runs an over. Eventually, when they were four wickets down, Dimitri Mascarenhas came in and hit a quick-fire 32 of 16 balls. Rajasthan finished on a respectable 162 for 5.
Middlesex, with some hard work to do, set about ticking the scoreboard over more as if it was a game in the County Championship than a game of Twenty20. Mascarenhas, not content with singlehandedly cranking up the run rate during the Rajasthan innings, set about dismantling the Middlesex attack, finishing with 2-24.
The biggest cheer rattled around Lord's when the Rajasthan captain, Shane Warne, stepped up to bowl his legendary spin. His good efforts did not go unrewarded as he picked up a vital wicket, that of Dawid Malan (34), who despite his slow run rate, was proving stubborn to remove.
Middlesex, as their innings progressed, slipped further and further behind the required run rate - to the extent that the scoreboard was saying at one point they needed 288 per over to win! Rajasthan rode out winners by 46 runs.
Twenty20, especially when done in the style of the IPL, is a great spectacle to attend. I will always be a fan of the longer format of the game, but that does not stop me believing that this form is pleasurable and engaging, especially when enjoyed with a bit of wine and good company.