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All it takes is just one man

He was the first to get off the Rajasthan Royals team bus on reaching their Chennai hotel. It was not about seeking special privileges as the captain. It was Shane Warne's way of displaying leadership. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports. Head to head | Matchbox

cricket Updated: May 04, 2011 02:15 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

He was the first to get off the Rajasthan Royals team bus on reaching their Chennai hotel. It was not about seeking special privileges as the captain. It was Shane Warne's way of displaying leadership.

"He is the first at every place; he's first in the team bus to leave for practice, first for matches, first for team meetings. Warne believes in leading from the front and sets the example; he's the reason for our success," a member of the Royals support staff told the HT on Tuesday.

"He gives the impression that he's not bothered about anything, but it's not what you see. There's no one more disciplined than Warne in the team and it seeps through to others. On paper, we are always the weakest but our team spirit is amazing."

The captaincy duel between Warne and MS Dhoni will add spice to the Indian Premier League contest between Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings at the M A Chidambaram stadium on Wednesday.

They are two of the most successful captains in the competition. However, on the surface they appear to be opposites. Dhoni maintains a low profile and comes out as reserved, in contrast to the flamboyant Warne. But they are both natural leaders who captain with flair and instinct.

Dhoni has a big advantage, the backing of a solid support system at the CSK. Warne works with limited resources but has continued to amaze by the way he has galvanized his young guns. It is a tribute to the Australian leg-spinner's leadership skills that he can boast of having an edge over Dhoni, 4-3, in head-to-head battles.

Warne's strength has been harnessing unknown names. Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan and Siddarth Trivedi came into limelight at Royals. The Jaipur team's find of this season is 20-year-old Ashok Menaria.

"One has to see the confidence he has given to Menaria. Just look at the way he's batting," said one of RR coaches.

Dhoni has achieved legendary status at CSK. "MS has been our strength. He's been the main man. He's calm and cool, binds the team together," said senior member of the CSK management, Kashi Viswanathan.

All-rounder Albie Morkel, who has played for the CSK from 2008, agreed. "The key aspect is Dhoni gives bowlers the freedom to do what they want - before he intervenes. If you want a specific field, he gives you that. You never see him panic under pressure. "

CSK have been unbeaten at home this season. It will be interesting to see whether Warne pulls something special out of his hat on Wednesday.