The wrinkles on Shane Warne's face show age is catching up with the maverick leg spinner. At 41, people would have understood if he had decided to put up his feet or take up a coaching job with Rajasthan Royals, having led them with aplomb in the last three editions.
But Warne doesn't really conform to standard practices.
And on Saturday, the Aussie showed he still had the guile and ability to get the best out of a bunch of youngsters with his intelligence and also lead from the front.
The former Australian leg spinner has shed many kilos in the last few months to prepare for the fourth edition of the IPL. And when he walked out for the toss against Deccan Chargers, it was clear he was spoiling for a fight.
Warne came in to bowl after the mandatory power play overs and bowled his quota of four on the trot, on a wicket that offered very little help for the spinners. He relied a lot on his trademark flippers once JP Duminy smashed him over the mid-on fence in his second over.
That proved to be the only shot Duminy managed against Warne as the Aussie pinned him to the crease and enticed a false shot to pack the South African off with the last ball of his spell.
"Not a single ball turned on this wicket. But I am happy with the way I bowled, though there is a lot of room for improvement," said the Royals captain-cum-coach, who finished with 2 for 21.
Speaking about his lean shape, something he never managed even during his peak playing days, Warne said he worked a lot on his strength and fitness in the last few weeks. "I am weighing 86 kg and really feeling great."
The leg spinner, however, felt he needed more time with the ball. "I haven't bowled for a year. I started bowling just a couple of weeks ago. I would have loved to bowl more in the run up to this game but that was not possible due to the travelling involved," he added.