Pruning the Rajasthan Royals squad from 27 to 18, which meant leaving out players like Mohd Kaif, was a "horrible job", says the defending Indian Premier League champions' captain-cum-coach Shane Warne.
Royals relieved Kaif, who was bought for US $650,000 last season, and eight others from team duty a couple of days back and Warne said it was not easy to convey the news to the left-out players.
"One of the most difficult tasks has been to prune our squad from 27 to 18 players. That really was a horrible job and some of the guys were pretty emotional when I broke the bad news. You have to be straight and I told those who didn't make the cut that they could still have good careers," Warne wrote in his column for The Times.
"Their reactions reminded me of how big the IPL has become in little over a year," he added.
Apart from this, Warne said the other major challenge has been to make his side's young Indian players who have never travelled abroad comfortable in South Africa, which has been nothing short of a "cultural shock" for them.
"...the younger Indian guys in our squad are finding South Africa a bit of a culture shock. They've certainly been dragged out of their comfort zones. Some of them hadn't stepped out of their own country before, let alone played overseas."
"Even the language can be a problem and at the moment they perhaps feel a bit out of place. They aren't always sure how to fill the time. The danger is that they sit in their rooms and just think cricket, cricket, cricket," Warne revealed.
The Australian spin legend said with last year's star performers Sohail Tanveer and Shane Watson missing from the action, Royals face an uphill battle to retain the title.
"We face a big challenge to try to retain the title. But why not? We're missing Sohail Tanvir and Shane Watson, who were really good players for us last time.
"As was the case last year, the input from the Indian guys will be crucial. There are one or two reputations waiting to be made," he said.
He also revealed that the sensational teen pacer Kamran Khan he spoke about last week was actually 20.
"I spoke to some of the press last week about a kid I think can be a real bolter for us, an '18-year-old' called Kamran Khan. He is left-arm, pretty raw, but seriously quick. After watching him again in practice this week, I had to ask whether he was sure he was only 18. He looked at me sheepishly, and said: 'No, sir, I'm 20.'
"Apart from telling him not to call me sir, I didn't know what to say," he said.