Royals, who won the inaugural IPL title under Warne, came out with ‘SW23’ Warne’s shirt number on their collars in the match against Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Stadium.
The spin legend’s death from a suspected heart attack aged 52 on March 4 shocked the cricketing world, with Royals saying he “made us believe”.
Players from both teams stood in line with the umpires at the start of the game for a minute’s applause to celebrate the illustrious career of Warne – the “first Royal” as the team call him.
In memory of the first Royal 🙌#RR are dedicating this match to their first Captain – Shane Warne #TATAIPL |… https://t.co/gi5I7Mdtm9
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) 1651328051000
The victory for the Royals in 2008 not only lit up the Twenty20 tournament but also turned several rookie Indian cricketers including Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan into popular names.
The Royals, now led by Sanju Samson, have not won again in the 13 subsequent seasons and paid an emotional tribute to the spin legend as players including Jos Buttler entered the stadium by high-fiving a life-size picture of Warne.
Forever with us, forever our First Royal – this one’s #ForWarnie.Thank you for everything, legend. 💗 https://t.co/sMKFjvU8V0
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) 1651326354000
Buttler, who leads the tournament batting chart with 566 runs including three centuries, later held up his collar en route to his 67 as big banners including “this one’s for you Warnie” hung from the balconies of the stadium.
Royals beat Chennai Super Kings at the same venue on June 1, 2008, and set the stage for the league to become one of the sport’s most popular and valuable tournaments.
Warne, who revived the art of leg spin and took 708 Test wickets in his glittering but controversial career, was often called “the best captain Australia never had”.
He captained Australian state side Victoria and the English county Hampshire.