Last week I confidently predicted that the only thing that Rajasthan Royals were going to win in this year's IPL was the wooden spoon.
I've got nothing against Rajasthan and I've especially got nothing against Shane Warne. Admittedly, I loathe PowerPoint presentations, marketing and brand management and all these were in evidence at the Royals global franchise press conference a few weeks ago at Lord's.
But my confident prediction was based on Rajasthan's dreadful performances in their first three matches culminating in the embarrassing defeat by 10 wickets to Bangalore, where they were hustled out for 92 and then Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey chased the target down in just over 10 overs. With twoof their best players, Graeme Smith and Dimitri Mascarenhas injured and out of the tournament, and the Damien Martyn experimenthaving failed at the cost of over $5,000 per run, Rajasthan looked a shambles.
But Shane Warne does not have a reputation as an inspirational leader for nothing and the Royals now look like a galvanised unit. Michael Lumb, who would be in my England squad for the World T20, has stepped into Smith's shoes and done well. Yusuf Pathan, repeated his incredible hitting exploits against Mumbai, with another six laden innings yesterday against last year's winners Deccan Chargers. Shaun Tait has found his straps along with Sumit Narwal and with Shane Watson to come in, Rajasthan suddenly look buoyant.
Deccan followed in the footsteps of Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab as Rajasthan have now recorded three wins in a row. Maybe a repeat of their victory (see above) in the inaugural tournament is not now out of the question. If they do achieve what would be an incredible turnaround then you can bet that poker addict Warne will be the one playing the wiliest hand.
And me, I'll enjoy eating my humble pie. Can I have some custard on it please?