Warne braces for face-off with ol` foe Sachin
Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest batsman he has bowled to, according to spin wizard Shane Warne who has drawn up plans to get the better of the iconic Indian batsman in the third edition of the IPL.
"He has been the greatest batsman in my 20 years of playing international cricket. He has been the greatest challenge to bowl to and I am hoping to resume that," said Warne ahead of his team Rajasthan Royals opening IPL clash against the Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians at the Brabourne Stadium.
"Particularly out here, they have seen him win most of the times and hit me half way out of the stands and I wish to put it right tomorrow.”
"I have only got him out a couple of times out here, but last time I got him out at a crucial time of the game," said the retired Australian leg spin legend.
Tongue-in-cheek, he added that he was looking forward to this battle against the Indian batting maestro if his team’s new ball attack fails to get rid off Tendulkar in case the latter prefers to open the innings.
"If our quicks don’t knock him over, that is if he opens the batting, I am looking forward to the battle," said Warne who has admitted to have had nightmares bowling to Tendulkar after the severe thrashing he received at the hands of the Indian master in the 1998 Test series in India and the ODI tournament in Sharjah.
Talking about his friendship off the field with Tendulkar, Warne said the duo’s battles in the middle have been a mixed affair and something that the cricket fans have cherished.
"Sachin has been a friend for a long time, 20 years of playing against him. He has won some battles. I have won some. But I think a lot of people like that contest.”
"We are good friends, but as soon as we are out in the middle, I am at one end and he is at the other, I am trying to get him out, he is trying to hit me for a six and not get out. So I suppose that is something that the fans like to watch this contest and they have seen it for a long time".
The leg spin ace, who became the highest wicket taker in Test cricket in the world before Sri Lanka’s off spin champion Muthiah Muralitharan overtook him, said that Tendulkar has rediscovered his wonted touch of late, after hitting a bad patch briefly, as was evident from the double hundred he notched in the ODI against South Africa last month.
"He is just a good player. Good players no matter what the situation is, they adapt. He went through a patch when his form was not good for a few years, but if you look at his form now, he is the first man to get a double hundred in ODIs," Warne remarked.
Talking about his team as a whole, Warne felt that the Royals, which surprised everyone by clinching the crown in IPL’s inaugural season in 2008, could not get its act together when the event got shifted to South Africa last year. "Our team is suited to all conditions, it is just that last year we didn’t get it right, that’s the nature of T20.”
“We still won 6-7 games and were 2 balls away from making it to the semifinals again," Warne pointed out.
Claiming nonchalantly that his team was the best side in IPL 3, Warne said it is shown by the fact that the Royals are the team with the best win-loss record in the two seasons put together.
"We have won the most games in the IPL and I feel we are doing something right. We have won it once, so I am really confident with our game plans and from the tactical side I feel we are the best side in the competition.”
Warne said the trick lay in getting the right personnel into the squad and not by going by their names or reputation, adding this year Royals had the strongest squad in three years put together.
"The squad we have got this year is the strongest we have got in 3 years. We have a good collection of international players and the local talent.”
"Our Indian guys are definitely the strongest we have definitely had. We as the management are excited on what they are going to achieve,” Warne said.
Warne singled out big-hitting all rounder Yusuf Pathan as the best match-winner in the competition as he could change the complexion of the game if he’s around for seven or eight overs.
"He’s probably, out of all the teams, the biggest match winner. You look at all the different players and they can all play well. But if Yusuf bats for 7-8 overs he is going to change the course of the game and he is going to win it of his own bat. He is a wonderful cricketer and a clean striker", Warne said.
Warne also rated Pathan as a bigger and cleaner striker of the ball than his compatriots Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds, playing for Deccan Chargers, and retired Indian opener Navjot Singh Sidhu
"I have seen Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Sidhu. I have seen so many wonderful strikers, but I don’t think anyone hits them as clean as Yusuf does. He is a senior player in our team.”
"He bowls off spin and we have used him at different times tactically like opening the bowling to guys like Hayden and Gilchrist who like pace and he has been successful at it. I am confident he will do his job,” he said in praise of the Baroda cricketer.
Warne said because of the fine support staff in his team who can get the best out of his players, the Royals have lost only one close game,
"As far as the management goes I think we are the best organised team with guys like Jeremy Snape who does a wonderful job of getting the best of our players, I think that is an edge we have over the other franchisees.”
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