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Be-Warned, they are no underdogs

cricket Updated: May 09, 2008 01:56 IST
Varun Gupta
Varun Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Men go far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than obtain what they desire. And if any team epitomises this adage, it is Jaipur.

In the high-end romance of sport and glamour, face value would have always counted. And any team that did not look attractive on paper would have certainly run the danger of being at the bottom of the popularity charts even without being given a fair run, as Jaipur did when it went for substance over spunk during the players’ auction.

Add to it the humiliating loss to Delhi in their opener, and daggers were out already as critics laid into the strategy.

Warne, the mentor

Stung by the scathing, premature assessments of their abilities, and with reputations at stake, the Jaipur players, led by a ‘friend, philosopher and guide’ in captain-cum-coach Shane Warne, hit back with a counterpunch swifter and deadlier than Muhammad Ali, winning five games on the trot against more-fancied opposition before being given a gentle jolt by, ironically, Mumbai.

After the loss to Delhi, Warne, in what many say was an emotional speech, talked about pride, passion and backing yourself, besides instilling some of his famed guile and cheek into the players, something which brought the flock together. They bloomed like a flower in spring, and went from strength-to-strength.

Brain backed brawn as Warne and his merry bunch slipped the rug from under Mohali and Hyderabad’s feet and blew Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai to smithereens.

United they stand

Internationals put their hands up and stood up to be counted while impressionable youngsters in Ravinder Jadeja, Siddharth Trivedi, Dinesh Salunkhe and Mahesh Rawat naturally followed suit. Shane Watson showed maturity as he became a lynchpin with both the bat and the ball while Graeme Smith added a touch of silk to the steel.

Yusuf Pathan reminded the world of his presence while Munaf Patel and Mohammed Kaif chugged along nicely, putting in neat performances on a regular basis.

Swapnil Asnodkar showed that he was only small in size but large in stature as he seized his moment with élan while Sohail Tanvir beguiled with his unusual verve.

Mounting expectations

But now the underdogs have turned into top dogs and that brings pressures and challenges. Now, it has to live up to the expectation and obtain what it desires.