Shane Warne, the Rajasthan Royals' captain, has said his side are keen to extend their four-match winning streak after a six-wicket victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders made them the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the IPL.
"We hope the Rajasthan Express keeps rolling. The strength of our team is that every member is good enough to contribute and pull off a win," Warne said. Talking about his side's latest victory, he said: "We wanted to send a message to the rest of our competitors that we are not taking our foot off the pedal."
Warne, whose captaincy in the IPL has received widespread praise, said his team's strategy was to target Kolkata's part-time bowlers. "[Umar] Gul has been one of their best bowlers in the competition, so we had to plan our batting order accordingly. We knew that [Sourav] Ganguly and [David] Hussey would have to bowl some overs in the middle. That's why we sent Yusuf Pathan down the order."
Pathan, whose unbeaten 18-ball 48 took Rajasthan to victory after they had been struggling at 69 for 4, came in for praise from Kolkata coach John Buchanan. "He took the game away from us, didn't he? He hit the ball very well, and is a very strong on side player. If we had got one more wicket after they were four down, who knows?"
Buchanan blamed his side's batting and several missed run-out opportunities for the loss. "Another 20-25 runs would have done the trick," he said, referring to Kolkata's modest total of 148. "We certainly failed to hit the stumps when we needed to."
With Kolkata's semi-final hopes almost extinguished, Buchanan said that the lesser-known players in the squad could get a look-in for their remaining two games. "We want to give the younger guys more experience in handling tough match situations. It's also about learning to play together as a group."
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR vs Royals
Indian Premier League