Shane Warne is the key to Rajasthan’s sucess
Shane Warne is the key to Rajasthan’s sucess

 

By Dhruv Rupani

 

In the inaugural edition of the IPL, the Davids had turned into Goliaths. It was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams to see the Rajasthan Royals lift the IPL trophy, but it did become reality. Shane Warne had single-handedly led a team of no-hopers to the victory post. I believe he will have to do the same in IPL4.

 

Warne and Shane Watson were the two players retained by Rajasthan. Warne has proven himself as an inspirational captain, despite his off-field unflattering conduct. The youngsters in the team idolize him and, in return, Warne brings out the best out of them. He showed the world that cricket speaks a universal language. Besides, his bowling is still lethal as ever, though that right shoulder has not been used for a year. Warne has established himself as an integral part of Rajasthan Royal – a huge brand value for the team.

 

On the other hand, Watson was the man-of-the-tournament in the first IPL. He is now rated as one of the finest all-rounders in world cricket. Winning the Allan Border Medal for the last two years goes to show the sublime form he has been in. He is the backbone of Rajasthan and the future of the franchise, once Warne retires from the IPL.

 

Shaun Tait, Ross Taylor and Johan Botha form the star power of this team. Rajasthan are clearly looking at the foreign players to lead from the front. Tait and Botha have played under Warne before, so buying them again in the auction was a smart move by the Royals. Tait will be available as he only plays T20s for Australia, whereas Botha is South Africa’s T20 captain and leading spinner at the moment. Taylor can be dangerous on his given day, and he proved his six-hitting ability in a World Cup match against Pakistan a few weeks ago. Paul Collingwood, however, will be sorely missed by the Royals. The T20 World Cup winning captain is injured, much like his other English teammates and has been replaced by Jacob Oram. The New Zealander was average for the Chennai Super Kings in the first three seasons, so it remains to be seen how effective he will turn out to be for the Royals.

 

Rahul Dravid is the only known Indian name in this team. Alongside Warne, my hunch is that Dravid would be given the responsibility to nurture the Indian youngsters, and not just that of batting in the middle-order. His performances will be the key to Rajasthan’s success this season.

 

Besides Dravid, there is another Test player in Aakash Chopra, who plays for Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy. But Chopra was sent back home in the second season of the IPL, allegedly for creating a rift in the Kolkata Knight Riders team. Despite his Test form being excellent, the IPL is a T20 format and Chopra is by no means an attacking batsman.

 

The Indians who would be expected to fire in the absence of players like Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja would be, Ajinkya Rahane, Stuart Binny and Pankaj Singh. The diminutive Swapnil Asnodkar became a household name in the 2008 season, but it will be interesting to see how he fares this season. Siddharth Trivedi and Nayan Doshi will form the lynchpins of the bowling attack.

 

Rajasthan once again look bleak on paper, but no one can write them off after what they did three years ago. However, that was in the past. Warne is now 41. Age could be destructive at times, and it has been proven that he could not repeat that achievement again. I guess he will not this time also. I reckon they would finish 7th or 8th in the tournament.

 

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