Kautilya Singh

New Delhi: The man, the wizard, the legend – Shane Warne who metamorphosed the very meaning of cricket in Rajasthan, will be playing for the last time before the home crowd on May 11. Warne has already announced his retirement from Indian Premier League (IPL) and his team Rajasthan Royals (RR) will be playing its last match on the home turf on Wednesday. The two remaining matches of RR are scheduled at Indore and Mumbai whereas the qualifier, eliminator and the final match will be played in Mumbai and Chennai.

Rajasthan has a glorious past in cricket. The state has given several promising and talented cricketers to the nation including Hanumant Singh, Raj Singh Dungarpur, Rusi Surti, Salim Durrani, Subhash Gupte and Ajay Jadeja. However, the past few decades had witnessed a decline in domestic cricket at Rajasthan, as majority of the national players came from Mumbai, New Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Karnataka.

It needed a magician to revive cricket in Rajasthan. In 2008, the country witnessed the biggest cricket extravaganza on the national level – Indian Premier League (IPL). The franchise of RR was purchased by Emerging Media, Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra. ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man,’ spin wizard who had already retired from the international cricket Shane Warne was given the responsibility to lead and Coach the RR team.

On April 19, 2008 RR played its first IPL match against Delhi Daredevils. After facing a humiliating defeat by nine wickets with more than four overs remaining, no one fancied RR to win the trophy. However, Warne took up the task of mentoring the team which comprised of several domestic players who had never played against international cricketers.

Under his dynamic leadership Indian cricketers Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, M Rawat, Munaf Patel, SA Asnodkar, Pankaj Singh, Siddarth Trivedi and D Salunke came up with the performance of their life time. With the support of international cricketers including Shane Watson, Graeme Smith and Sohail Tanvir, RR went on to win the first season of IPL 1 in 2008.

Warne often referred as `Sheik of Tweak’ and ‘King of Spin’, himself came up with an outstanding performance in IPL -1. In the 15 matches, Warne played he picked up 19 wickets at a economy rate of 7.76 runs per over. The magician was the second highest wicket taker in the tournament, the highest being his team mate Sohail Tanvir, who picked up 22 wickets.

In addition to 708 test wickets and 293 ODI wickets, Warne has bagged over 55 wickets in IPL. He became the first captain of an IPL team to take over 50 wickets. In the 10 matches, he has played in season 4, the legend has taken 11 wickets, conceding only 6.18 runs per over.

After a four year association with the franchise, Warne has finally decided to retire from IPL. In an emotional message to fans of RR, he has requested them to back the team in the last three matches. Warne has also asked his supporters to come Indore and Mumbai to support the side in the last two league matches.