Inaugural IPL champions Rajasthan Royals on Saturday paid tribute to Australia leg-spin great and 'first Royal' Shane Warne in a heartwarming video ahead of their match against Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Stadium on Saturday evening, which will be dedicated to the Australia leg-spin great. Warne left the cricketing world in mourning when he passed away due to a sudden heart attack at the age of 52 on March 4 at the Koh Samui Island in Thailand. Warne had coached and captained Rajasthan to victory in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008. After his playing days for Rajasthan were over, Warne took over as the mentor of the side for every edition of the IPL till 2021. "I think he was a very special individual, a very special cricketer for almost every cricketer in the world and it was the same for me! Players genuinely do feel let's do it for Warnie this time," said skipper Sanju Samson. Rajasthan will sport a special jersey with SW23 written on the leading collar against the Mumbai Indians as a tribute to Warne.
The match against Mumbai will be played at the venue where Warne inspired Rajasthan to win IPL 2008 with a three-wicket victory against Chennai Super Kings. A special area at the DY Patil Stadium has also been turned into a Shane Warne Tribute Gallery apart from #ForWarnie kept as a hashtag for the special tribute on the franchise's social media handles. Warne's brother Jason will be flying to Mumbai to watch the match and be a part of the tribute. Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, currently the leading run-scorer of the tournament, pointed out what made Warne special. "The belief he could instill in others I think it was the biggest thing I took away. Think he made you feel 10 feet tall when you were around him. Without really realizing I think we are all just obviously playing for something bigger than ourselves." Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, never got the chance to interact with Warne in the Rajasthan colours but felt that Warne's best wishes were with him since the time he joined the team.
"I got my first hattrick after coming here, so I think his wishes have and will always remain with me. So, I think his wishes have and will always stay with me.And if we win the IPL then, that trophy will obviously be for him." Rajasthan are at second place in the points table of this year's IPL, with 12 points from eight matches. Rajasthan CEO Jake Lush McCrum felt Warne would have been proud of team's performance in the tournament. "I think he would have been proud of the way the guys have played this year. He would have been proud of the way we have approached the game. His last game for RR was against Mumbai. We won the IPL in the DY Patil Stadium which is where this match is being held. So, I think it's going to be a great celebration of sport and celebration of him to be on such a game." Team Manager Romi Bhinder recalled an incident where everyone felt Warne's presence was still in the side. "We have put up a picture of him where his hand is outstretched and a few days ago, I saw Jos giving him a high five and saying 'Legend'! These are the small things like this where the team feels his presence." The video ended with a throwback clipping of Warne saying, "The key to IPL, what I found out and thought about was the first thing, you have to win people's hearts."