Cricket and commerce go hand in hand in the IPL. Spin legend and now the Rajasthan Royals skipper, Shane Warne, was promoting a hair studio on Tuesday afternoon, and then sometime later, egging on his boys, mostly fringe players, at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
“The guide and mentor”, as RR opener Naman Ojha calls his skipper, has been an inspirational leader and has turned an unknown lot into a well-oiled machine. The bland Royals, who had only Warne and the hot Shilpa Shetty as selling points have shot up on the points table and now cornered all attention.
Suddenly, they are looking like a contender and players like Ojha, who spent their productive years grinding for their states, have found lights and cameras.
Even though the ‘starry’ Delhi Daredevils start favourites for Wednesday night’s game, Warne might just be plotting something different.
On Tuesday, Shaun Morris, the RR chief executive officer, spoke about the need to build local players. Whether these locals will keep performing match after match remains to be seen but there is no doubting that the IPL has given them something that years of domestic cricket never could — a household belonging. Swapnil Asnodkar, Naman Ojha, Yusuf Pathan are now well-known names.
The Daredevils, meanwhile, as RR coach Jeremy Snape put it, “have a lot of international stars and that makes them strong”.
On Monday, it was David Warner who shone for them against the Kolkata Knight Riders. Before that, there were Virender Sehwag — against RR in their first win — and Gautam Gambhir — against the Kings XI.
The Daredevils have also been fortunate to have young Indian talent like Kedar Jadhav stepping up to the plate.
They have broken the jinx of not winning at the Kotla this year and, with a batting line-up as amazing as they possess, it is hard to believe they can lose on home ground.
Unlike the tie against the KKR, this match might not have been on Delhiites’ priority list but then, with the Daredevils back to winning ways at home, it is hard to imagine that they will want to miss the battle between the wizard of Oz and the Delhi dashers — Sehwag, Warner and Gambhir.