To say that Shane Warne is an instinctive cricketer will be an understatement. The Aussie spin legend’s career is replete with stories of great escapes and miraculous recoveries. And, after the Rajasthan Royals’ second-straight win on Wednesday, millions of Warne fans will be hoping to see another magical performance in the IPL from the leg spinner.
Two straight wins after three consecutive defeats is a phenomenal comeback. The way Warne has galvanised the team and overcome injury worries tells a lot about the skipper and his group of obedient disciples.
Michael Lumb’s stroke-bedecked 41 after a golden duck against the Kolkata Knight Riders will give the Royals opener the much-needed confidence. Struggling to get the opening combination going, Lumb’s form will bring some relief.
The Royals need someone like Jacques Kallis to carry his bat through while allowing others to play around him. While Adam Voges props up the middle order, guys like Naman Ojha, Faiz Fazal, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala and Yusuf Pathan have to play the cameos to prevent the run-rate from slouching.
And, just like their clinical performance against Punjab, the Royals bowlers have to be tidy against Deccan Chargers batsmen. The likes of Adam Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Symonds like to play attacking shots and any opportunity to swing the bat won’t be missed.
The key, of course, will be to maintain the focus after their consecutive wins. It will be a test of Lumb’s skills against Chaminda Vaas’s swing and seam, of Shaun Tait’s raw pace against Gilchrist’s aggressive play. It will also be interesting to see Pragyan Ojha’s one-on-one battle with Yusuf Pathan and Shane Warne’s one-upmanship battle with Symonds.
No matter who wins on Friday, the Royals versus Chargers tie will be one of the most fascinating contests in IPL-III. Both teams have left a legacy by winning the first two editions of the tournament, and in victory or in defeat people will remember the titans.