A Big hit, no doubt

Shane Warne and Graeme Smith celebrate the fall of Mark Boucher’s wicket. Warne and Smith are real assets to the Rajasthan Royals.-PTI

The Royals may not have heavyweights like some other teams but the young side has the biggest advantage of having two of the shrewdest brains in the business — Shane Warne and Graeme Smith, writes W. V. Raman.

The IPL fever has certainly gripped the country going by the support the crowds have provided in the first couple of weeks. The crowds have come in good numbers at all venues, rooting for their home teams. It is still a long way to go and a lot of things can change as far as the points table is concerned with the departure of the Aussies to the West Indies.

The departure of the Aussies will necessitate changes in some teams that are sailing smoothly and they will need to rediscover the winning combination. It is not easy for a team to seamlessly adjust to different playing combinations and it becomes even more difficult when adjustments have to be made halfway through the tournament when the pressure starts to mount.

Quite obviously, this will add that extra bit of spice in making the IPL more unpredictable and thereby keep the crowds interested right till the end.

It has been a tournament of some extraordinary results, disappointments and gains, not to mention the unsavoury behaviour of some players. The extraordinary results have come from Rajasthan Royals, supposedly the underdogs before the start of the league. Their performance in their first outing failed to provide any confidence but what revived and rejuvenated that side was the magical spell from the legendary Shane Warne.

The Royals were up against Kings XI Punjab, who boasted a strong batting line-up. The leg-spinner proved on that day, like he did on several occasions throughout his career, why he is simply the best the World has seen.

In a spell of four overs, he spun a web of magic to get the top order and restrict the Punjab to a modest score. The target was chased comfortably and the turnaround began then and with four successive victories the Royals are creating waves in the IPL.

The Royals may not have heavyweights like some other teams but the young side has the biggest advantage of having two of the shrewdest brains in the business — Shane Warne and Graeme Smith.

The Royals have given Yusuf Pathan the responsibility of getting runs quickly and he has played the role with élan. The youngster comes through as a confident man and though he has gone for a few runs while bowling his offspin, he has picked up a wicket or two at crucial stages.-PTI

The inspiration provided by Warne and the professional pride displayed by Smith have turned a bunch of awe struck cricketers into a unit of giant killers. Warne and Smith have shown the youngsters that common sense and suppression of ego can fetch a lot more than other attributes.

Warne has taken himself off the attack if he went for a few extra runs and has not completed his full quota of overs in some games. This is more a reflection of the legend’s priorities. Warne has put his team’s interest ahead of his ego and taken himself off when the situation required someone else to bowl.

Similarly, another classic lesson was taught by Smith during Royals run chase against the Royal Challengers. Yusuf Pathan was blazing away from one end and Smith was keeping him company. The South African skipper was happy to give the strike to Pathan realising that his flow could not be disrupted. A much more accomplished batsman was playing the second fiddle to a man who is looking to make a mark! Classic stuff indeed for the discerning as the man in top form in international cricket chose common sense over ego. The youngsters in the Royals side have also responded well to Warne and Smith apart from measuring up to the demands of high octane stuff.

The Royals have been served well by Yusuf Pathan so far and he should go down as the biggest gain in this tournament. The young all-rounder was a part of the World T20-winning squad and this tournament has given him the opportunity to showcase his talent. His striking ability has provided the impetus for the Royals and the way he has handled the various fast bowlers with aggression is admirable. The Royals have given him the responsibility of getting runs quickly and Pathan has played the role with élan. The youngster comes through as a confident man and though he has gone for a few runs while bowling his off-spin, he has picked up a wicket or two at crucial stages.

Pathan is one of the few Indians who have performed in a tournament that has been more or less dominated by the Australians. With Mike Hussey, Matthew Hayden Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds leaving the scene, the onus is on the others to keep up the tempo and enthrall the spectators with some blistering knocks.

The crowds have been denied the opportunity of seeing Tendulkar in action during the first two weeks and it will be interesting to see how much he makes up for all the lost time. Tendulkar is regarded as the master blaster by the Indian public and if he can turn it on, it will be the icing on the cake for the IPL, a tournament that is already a resounding success.