The Indian Premier League could not have asked for a more captivating finale. A last-ball climax at the D. Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai with the neutral audience enjoying every moment of the match made for a sensational script. And it was written by a team that was backed by few when the first ball of the 44-day tournament was bowled.
Rajasthan Royals, in winning the first edition of the IPL, underlined a fact that has stood the test of time for ages. You do not need stars to win. You need men who understand their role and strive to meet the standards expected of them. And when you have a leader like Shane Warne, the sky can be the limit really.
What an example Warne has set with his stupendous work in the Rajasthan Royals' dressing room. He transformed an ordinary-looking unit into a formidable combination that backed itself right through. Money and reputation did not count when the team was picked and the players proved their worth with a performance that stood out for sheer consistency when it mattered.
The emergence of Yusuf Pathan was the best thing to have come out of the IPL. A clean striker of the ball, unhurried and supremely confident, he excelled with the ball too to raise possibilities of developing into an all-rounder that Indian cricket has long been looking for. We all knew he had the potential but what makes it special is the fact that he chooses his occasions to leave a mark.
The final was dominated by Yusuf. He carried the team on his shoulders and some of the shots that he played belonged to the highest class. He can caress and he can pummel. It is this ability to adapt that makes Yusuf a dangerous player in any conditions. I am sure Warne must have played a role in making Yusuf realize his potential with the bat and the ball and his responsibility in a team that relied a lot on him.
The success of Rajasthan Royals also sent significant messages to various scouts that they need to focus on performers and not just look for big names. Quite a few reputed names fell by the wayside in this IPL and that makes me wonder when some of the greats like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly would get the message.
It is very clear now, from the team picked for the Bangladesh tri-series and the Asia Cup, that Dravid and Ganguly do not figure in the scheme of things for one-day cricket and it would be nice if they depart gracefully from one-day cricket. The selectors have done a laudable job by picking the right players at the right time. One could see the impact the selection made on Yusuf since he turned the IPL final on its head with his individual brilliance.
The selectors are looking ahead. The team has the right balance and the combination as they have picked horses for courses. And I think Warne has shown the way to everyone by backing some talented players who gained with his wealth of knowledge. I am happy to see that a good number of youngsters have emerged on the scene, thanks to the IPL. But remember that even the Indian Cricket League was doing the same job -- focussing on players who did not get opportunities. I think the BCCI should look ahead and bury the egos.
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