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Friday, May 20, 2011

IPL: Warne hails Tendulkar as his greatest ever adversary

Shane Warne will bring the curtain down on his illustrious professional career on Friday, hailing India batsman Sachin Tendulkar as the greatest cricketer he has ever played against.

The leg-spinning legend will lead the Rajasthan Royals out against the Little Master’s Mumbai Indians in the Jaipur team’s final outing of this year’s Twenty20 competition.

And Warne believes it is fitting that he will end his playing days up against fellow legend Tendulkar.

Jokes apart: Warne and Tendulkar share a light moment

“Sachin is the greatest player I have played against,” said Warne.

“It’s appropriate that my last game is versus Sachin. Sachin has been my friend for a long period of time. We have a bit of laugh with each other, crack jokes.

“I hope Sachin does not smash me all around the park!”

The veteran leg-spinner enters the match-up still smarting from a $50,000 (Dh182,500) fine for his part in a public row - shown live on TV - with Sanjay Dixit, secretary of Rajasthan Cricket Association, over the choice of wicket for a home game.

The Australian 41-year-old hit out at the punishment, saying he got fined for “telling the truth”.

The row centred on a change of wicket for Rajasthan’s home games, which offered less turn for the spinners, much to Warne’s disgust.

Warne, though, said he had no regrets about his bust-up with Dixit.

“I’m not saddened about what happened at all,” Warne said. “I got fined for telling the truth. The incident was silly, petty and a bit immature. I won’t let this spoil my IPL and the experience I’ve had.”

He added: “I’ve no regrets at all because you cannot change the past.

“I should have gifted Sanjay Dixit a pair of Spinners underwear,” he joked, referring to the brand of men’s underwear he endorses.

Dixit had earlier mocked the bowler in a column and also took aim at the controversial blond-haired star over his romance with British model Elizabeth Hurley.

“He (Warne) caused quite a sensation with his long lip-lock in full public view at the time of presentation ceremony of a game which he won,” wrote the official.

“I had to quieten things down to make sure that the matter did not reach the courts. Warne was admonished, I am given to understand, but it did not deter him much.”

Rajasthan go into Friday's match in Mumbai with seven defeats from 13 outings to their name, already out of contention for a place in the top-four play-offs.

For Mumbai, though, they still need one victory from their remaining two games to secure their place in the four-team play-offs.

However, confidence is far from sky-high after suffering back-to-back defeats - by 76 runs to Kings XI Punjab at Mohali and by 10 runs to Deccan Chargers in their home ground.

In their previous tie at this ground, Mumbai struggled against Deccan Chargers and failed to chase the modest target of 136.

Top of Mumbai’s concerns is that their mighty batting line-up has shown signs of vulnerability once the three main run-getters - Tendulkar (408 runs from 12 games), Ambati Rayudu (364 from 12) and Rohit Sharma (291 from 12) - are dismissed.

The overseas batsmen have been a disappointment, especially Aussie Andrew Symonds (135 runs from 10 games) and ball (one wicket) and giant West Indian Kieron Pollard (102 runs and nine wickets from 12 games).

By James Burton

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