Johannesburg:Spin legend Shane Warne is banking on Proteas Graeme Smith and Morne Morkel to win friends when the lucrative Twenty20 tournament gets underway in South Africa on April 18.
Warne, who led Rajasthan Royals to title in the inaugural IPL season, had often subjected to verbal abuse by South African spectators most of the time he played here.
"I've always enjoyed playing here. I've been back a few times to play in poker tournaments at Sun City. The public have booed me most of the time but hopefully playing with the Rajasthan Royals they'll get behind me," said the spin legend.
"Hopefully when I come on to bowl, I'll get a clap, or a cheer or whistle. They're pretty vocal over here. They love their cricket. Having Graeme Smith and Morne Morkel in the side will help. It has surprised me how many people watched the IPL over here, and how many people liked the Royals," he told 'Sunday Times'.
Warne, who was involved in a verbal duel with Smith in 2005-06, had successfully managed to mend bridges with the South Africa skipper and also gave him the nickname, "Rock at the top."
"We had a few beers after the first game and chatted about a lot of stuff," Warne said about last year's IPL.
"We hung out a fair bit. We've kept in touch since then and become good buddies. They (South Africa) have done well. He's matured a bit too.
"He came in at a young age and wanted to try to mix it. He didn't want to take a backward step. He was so verbal and public about everything," said Warne.
"We won 5-0 (in 2005-06) and I said to him the other day, when something's not working, try to do something else. Don't just continue and let the ego get in the way.
"He said, 'Yeah, yeah, I've learned my lesson'. He learned a lot about himself and how things work. He has matured into a good captain."