The astute player that he is, Shane Warne has an uncanny knack of unearthing hidden talent and keeping faith in it. He does not even hesitate to unleash it in crunch situations in order to get the best out of them. He did it with Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Swapnil Asnodkar, Dinesh Shankule, Neeraj Patel in the first season of IPL that ultimately helped his team win the crown despite not having any big names in its ranks.
The same confidence he displayed this year as well, as the spin legend kept his confidence in the lesser known Abhishek Raut and Kamran Khan. And they have not disappointed their Captain.
If Kamran Khan hogged the limelight by snatching a sensational match for the team against KKR in IPL’s first super over, the match against Deccan Chargers brought out a new hero in Abhishek Raut, who played an excellent knock of unbeaten 36, off just 23 balls under tremendous pressure to steer his team to victory.
As they say in cricket, or
in any other game, you need more players with character than with just talent. Talent may ‘deceive’ you in tricky situations, but players with character will raise the bar in difficult times and win you more matches under pressure.
That character was shown by another young man from lowly Madhya Pradesh, Naman Ojha. Though he has scored aplenty in the domestic circuit, IPL has proved to be a completely new arena for him.
He failed in his debut match against Delhi Daredevils, scoring a golden duck. Any other captain might have dropped the rookie after that match. But Warne saw in him a champion match-winner, and the seeds of his wisdom germinated in the very next match, when coming as an opener Ojha surprised one and all by smashing 68 against Kings XI Punjab and forging a 135-run opening stand with Graeme Smith. He provided an encore with another fifty in the next match to steer his team to victory over Bangalore Royal Challengers.
Before the inaugural edition of IPL, no one knew Yusuf Pathan or Ravindra Jadeja. They were, at that time, raw materials which needed complete support from seniors, so that they could believe in their abilities and play their natural game. They found a perfect mentor in Warne, who did not tell them the importance of being ‘perfect’ in cricket, but taught them to back their natural instincts at crunch time.
Shane Warne is not an ‘any other’ skipper for you. Here is a man, who understands the game inside out. And he knows it like one understands his beloved of long times.
For this, he does not need to be a rocket scientist operating with his laptop. Warne has played enough cricket at the highest level to know which players need to be supported and which players have no role to play in the abbreviated format of the game.
So, Kaif may be the bigger name than Abhishek Raut or Niraj Patel or Naman Ojha, but when it comes to Warne, name and fame pale into insignificance before prudence or rationality of the situations.
All these can b e attributed to his brilliant cricketing acumen. Perhaps, he grasped the nuances of T20 cricket faster than any cricket pundit. The way he is using his trump card- Yusuf Pathan- in the batting order, confirms the fact.
It’s due to his tremendous cricketing insight and vast knowledge of the game or maybe the enormous personality that draws respect from everybody and allows even South African skipper Graeme Smith to play under his captaincy without a fuss.
The success of Rajasthan Royals, with Warne at the helm of affairs in the first edition of IPL, is now folklore. His team may or may not win IPL 2009
, but Warne marshalling his resources is a treat to watch.
He is an ultimate cowboy the game has ever seen. He has again shown his bete noire Buchanan that the game of cricket is won on a cricket field and not in the backroom.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)