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Shane Warne may gush about the IPL and get rightly ridiculed. But he has never compromised on his role as captain-coach-mentor for Rajasthan Royals. He is not short of hyperbole when the team wins but when they under-perform, he is not shy to be critical in his assessment either.

After the six-wicket defeat on Monday at Motera against Delhi, Warne was asked to rate Abhishek Jhunjhunwala's half-century, which had helped Rajasthan to a respectable target from being in dumps at 50 for 4. Warne praised Jhunjhunwala and Paras Dogra, as the pair's 60-run partnership for the sixth wicket had formed the backbone of Rajasthan's total, but added their lack of experience had not allowed the youngsters to capitalise on many opportunities that were there for the taking. "He [Jhunjhunwala] played pretty well," Warne had said, rubbing the sweat off his forehead. "The only thing was that in the middle [overs] they played some beautiful shots to the boundary but then there were too many dot balls…with experience you hit the boundary and then you hit a one rather than get four dots and then a four."

That blunt assessment worked wonders as, today, Jhunjhunwala ended up with the Man-of-the-Match performance in Rajasthan's first victory in the tournament which came on the back of three defeats in a row. Smiling and nodding to Warne's every word during the media conference, Jhunjhunwala resembled an obedient pupil who enjoyed listening to his master's words. That did not mean he had stopped thinking on his own. "I got a lot of help and support from Jeremy Snape and Warney [Shane Warne] because they helped me knowing what my strengths and weaknesses are in my batting which previously was cluttered in my mind. I am quite clear about my role in my team which is very important," Jhunjhunwala said.

"JJ", the nickname Warne has proffered on the former ICL-ite and Bengal player, is a good example of Rajasthan's policy of investing in domestic talent rather than big-name international players. Perhaps a big lesson was learnt last year after they spent an incredible $ 650,000 on the ageing Tyron Henderson, who has prospered in the Twenty20 Cup in England. But Henderson proved to be a bad investment and Rajasthan reverted to their original policy of picking lesser-known names like Adam Voges for much lesser prices without hurting their kitty.

Today Voges, who was bought for $ 50,000 in the auction in January, played a crucial a role along with Jhunjunwala to strengthen the platform laid by Naman Ojha and debutant Faiz Fazal at the top of the order. Even if Yusuf Pathan failed in providing the final blast that would've taken the total closer to 200, the pair of Voges and Jhunjhunwala paced the innings smartly to strengthen the grip established by the aggressive partnership between Faiz and Ojha.

In direct contrast was Kolkata's sluggish approach, which became slower by the minute, eventually taking the target beyond their reach. "Last game we didn't have the wickets in hand. This game we had the wickets in hand but didn't do enough in the middle overs to give us the final push," is how Dav Whatmore, Kolkata's coach, summed up the day.

It did not help that Warne won the toss on a terribly hot day when the mercury soared to 43 degrees. The Australian understood that on a blazing day like this his batsmen might lack the energy to chase a big target and hence didn't think twice before electing to bat first. As for the opponent's stutter, Warne felt the reasons the pressure climbed on Kolkata was because they did not play well against his spin and it also did not help that Shaun Tait and co. bowled tight lines. Siddharth Trivedi came up with his "mixed bag of tricks", something Warne felt the Gujarat medium pacer had done consistently in the first IPL which Rajasthan had won. Warne was happy with his own bowling and felt the phase between overs 7 and 11 was when the game turned in Rajasthan's favour. "In overs 7-11 one of our plans was to go for less than seven [runs per over] and put the pressure on. And once I finished my spell they needed 12 an over," Warne said. He was spot on: in those four overs Kolkata could pick only 29 runs for the loss of one wicket.

After the victory, Warne said his, and the team's, first feeling was of relief. But before the players can relax to enjoy the win, he has a message: "Today we were a really proud group. We showed a lot of heart and we showed a lot of character. But it is just one game." Like ever, Warne remains clear about his goals. Steadily his team has begun to catch up.

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