'We can play even better,' thunders Warne
Rajasthan may have bulldozed Delhi in Friday night's lop-sided semifinal but victorious captain Shane Warne thunders his team can play even better and that would be on display in the final of the Indian Premier League.
"Some day your tactics come off. The players were up for it and you could tell that from our intensity on the field. It was still not our best game and I hope we have saved it for the final," Warne said after leading his side to a thumping 105-run win against Virender Sehwag's Delhi.
Now that the side has booked its final berth, Warne does not care who he faces on Sunday. "Whoever we play, we would play our best. We have been the best team in the tournament so far and I'm confident we would do well in the final," Warne said, almost in a veiled threat.
His opposite number Virender Sehwag, for the first time, admitted the brittle middle order could not live up to the expectation and Delhi paid the price for their over-reliance on the top three.
"The middle order has let me down. They have not clicked in the past few matches and it's not easy for the top three batsmen to go out and perform in every game," he rued.
"The match was never in our hands today. After the first three overs, (Swapnil) Asnodkar and (Graeme) Smith took the game away from us. Perhaps if we had batted well, we could have consoled ourselves that at least we tried. But we did not even do that," he said.
Warne thoroughly enjoyed the backing of the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium and the showman took a bow at them after the match. "I'm very happy with the crowd. Mumbai understands its cricket and reminded me of New South Wales or Sydney. They were right behind us in this match. There is perhaps a rivalry between Mumbai and Delhi, which helped us tonight." Warne also showered praise on compatriot and Man of the Match Shane Watson who was instrumental behind Rajasthan's win with his sterling all-round display.
"Throughout the series he has been superb. He lost a bit of the edge in the last few games but today he was absolutely fantastic and showed his class. He's a fantastic all-round cricket and good enough to be in the Australian team.
"Watson stays injury-free which is good and he can easily be one of the leading all-rounders if he gets his head right. I see a long Australian career for him," Warne said.
The coach-cum-captain of the side also thanked his foe-turned-friend Graeme Smith for braving the hamstring pull and chipping in.
"It was great that he put the team ahead of himself. He stood and kept slogging and got runs for the team which I think was incredible.
"Lot has been said about him and me when we played against each other in the national teams but I have been lucky to have him here as a friend and he has been brilliant in the team," he said.
Warne said in case the fresh injury kept Smith out of the final, he already had replacement in mind. "It has been fantastic to have him in the team and it would be a big loss for us if he is not in the final. Someone like Younis Khan or Kamran Akmal could replace him in the final if he cannot play."
On the Indian players in the Rajasthan side, Warne lavished praise on Siddhart Trivedi and Niraj Patel and said the duo was good enough to represent India.
He patted Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan and Swapnil Asnodkar as well and said, "I just heard that Pathan got picked in the Indian ODI squad. I'm proud that I managed to get the best out of him in the tournament so far."
Asked if would like to coach the Indian team at some point of time, Warne said, in a lighter vein, "Perhaps not the coach but as the team manager', before adding "There are many leggies like (Piyush) Chawla and (Amit) Mishra and others like Pathan and Jadeja. I may come back as spin bowling mentor."
The spin legend said the IPL was right up there in terms of best experience he had in his illustrious career. "IPL is new and exciting and the BCCI must be praised for the concept. I think everyone has enjoyed it so far," he said.