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This Year’s Rajasthan Royals Squad is the Strongest Ever: Warne

Shane Warne, the brand ambassador of Rajasthan Royals, talks about the new-look side, Sanju Samson and Steve Smith.

Updated
Cricket
4 min read
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Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

Camerapersons: Nitin Chopra, Shiv Kumar Maurya

Rajasthan Royals’ lucky mascot is back with the side for the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). After leading the side to title in the maiden IPL season in 2008, Shane Warne has donned many hats for the side. First as captain-coach, then as mentor and now he will be seen as the brand ambassador for the side.

“This year as brand ambassador I don’t have anything to do with the cricket department. I am sure at some point I will interact with the players but my role is more about spreading the word about Rajasthan Royals and travel around speaking about the Royals, what we are all about.”
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals
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For Rajasthan, after the first season they didn’t have much to celebrate except three play-offs finishes in 2013, 2015 and 2018.

But with change of hands, Warne believes that fortunes might also change for the Rajasthan side. The Royals, who have generally been stingy at the auction table, broke the bank this time around. They roped in Indian talents Jaydev Unadkat (Rs 8.4 crore) and Varun Aaron (Rs 2.4 crore) along with Windies bowler Oshane Thomas (Rs 1.1 crore).

“This year the owners have spent big money. And you look at the squad, you look at the international players we have, you look at the Indian talents we have. I think the team we have this year is probably the strongest the Rajasthan Royals have ever put together.”
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals

This year the Royals expect most of their contingent to be available for the first 10-11 games. So, brand ambassador Warne is not hesitant to say that Rajasthan Royals might emulate their first season success this year too.

“Anything less than a play-off is a disappointing year. And I believe they can win it this year. I think the Royals can win it. I think everyone is finally saying look at the Royals on paper. Suddenly, you have Archer, Stokes, Buttler, Smith, Turner. You have got all those big players who are superstars on the world stage. It is great to have all of them at the Royals.”
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals

Though he won’t be taking any cricket related decision this season, Warne’s success mantra is clear. The former Australian cricketer wants the international cricketers to shoulder the responsibility. With the likes of Stokes, Buttler and Smith in the playing XI, Warne believes one good outing by an individual player might clinch the deal for the Royals.

“Whoever among the four internationals is playing, who make the final XI they probably have to win one game by themselves and other three to four games you need to win to play the play-offs should be a team-effort. Your big players need to win you one game either with the bat or the ball or both. You do that and then if you get in the final that’s when your big players need to put their hands up and play a magnificent performance to help the team the win.”
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals
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Ashton Turner was a crucial part of Australia’s remarkable comeback against India in the recently concluded ODI series, which they won 3-2 after being 0-2 down. It was Turner’s unbeaten 84 off 44 balls which helped Australia level the series.

Lucky for Royals, Turner will be representing the side in this year’s IPL. He was picked up by the side for a paltry Rs 50 lakh in the auction earlier this year. Warne is confident that he will have a huge impact this year too.

“He (Ashton Turner) has got a good head on his shoulder. He’s experienced. He has an older head on his shoulder for an inexperienced player. And we saw his talent. He has an amazing talent. So we are very lucky to have. It was a great great pick up from the Royals to identify Ashton Turner. I think Turner will have a huge impact this year too.”
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals

Apart from Turner, Warne is hopeful young Sanju Samson will do wonders for the side. In fact, he believes Sanju will the ‘Most Valubale Player’ of this edition.

“I think Sanju Samson for me will the MVP. He will be the player of the IPL. I think Samson is someone, who by the end of the year, I will be very disappointed, if he is not playing in all-forms of the game by the end of the year. I think he is absolute class. Samson, he is so good.”
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals

When asked to pick top five impact players for Rajasthan this season, Warne did name Sanju, Buttler, Stokes, Rahane and Krishnappa but clarified that the entire squad was full of classy players and picking only five would be an injustice.

The world cup winner was mindful that Smith would be making his international comeback in the IPL, and expected him to do some big things for the side this year.

“I think Steve Smith will be very excited to be back playing cricket. I think he will be so hungry that he will be determined and very passionate about playing the game. He just wants to get back amongst the team, get in and show how good he is. He is one of the best players in the world. We are very lucky to have him.”
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals

Concluding the interview with a prediction for the upcoming IPL season, Warne identified his four teams for the play-off. As expected Rajasthan Royals are going to win their second title, according to Warne.

“I think the Rajasthan Royals will win so there is one. Chennai has been the most consistent side throughout the the IPL, so there is two. I think Bangalore this year finally might do something. So, I would whack Bangalore in there. So, it’s three. And Kolkata. I think Kolkata will sneak in and that will be the top four.”  
Shane Warne, Brand Ambassador, Rajasthan Royals

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