Captaincy is not an easy job. But despite the responsibilities, it is a wonderful experience.
The IPL has been witness to international stars from the present and yesteryears.
But if one compiles an album of IPL memories, two things that stand out are Shane Warne and the Rajasthan Royals.
Warne is, arguably, the most expressive skipper in IPL and being captain and coach gives him various shades. From being a taskmaster to a counsellor, friendly teammate to an understanding skipper, shrewd tactician to a fearless cricketer, Warne has been a complete package for the Royals.
He knows each member of the squad, has a keen eye for talent and can transform a mediocre player to a match-winner. Players like Siddharth Trivedi, Kamran Khan, Naman Ojha, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala have matured under him.
“Previously, I didn't have an idea where my strengths lay in batting. I tried every shot in the book. Now, I am quite clear about my role as both Shane (Warne) and Jeremy (Snape) have shown me what my strengths and weaknesses are,” says Jhunjhunwala.
Even opponents are full of praise for the Royals’ skipper. Despite losing in Nagpur, Adam Gilchrist commended Warne.
“There’s no doubt he’s a fine captain and leader of that team. In theory, one should not lose ten wickets in 20-over games, but pressure and intensity do a lot of things to the minds of the players. Warne is the best leg-spinner who has played the game. That was very much on display,” Gilchrist said after his team was bowled out with Warne picking four wickets.
After Wednesday's defeat, Kings XI coach Tom Moody heaped praise on the Royals. “You have to give credit to Rajasthan for the way they bowled and exploited the conditions. They changed the pace cleverly in the second half of our innings and, therefore, we couldn’t get the boundaries we needed.”
Warne has nothing more to prove. Most of his strategies have worked, and even if the Royals stutter before the finish line, they will be loved for their tantalising performance.