New Delhi: Legendary Australian spinner Shane Warne is surely impressed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team’s surge in international cricket but believes India could realise its No. 1 dream only if Sachin Tendulkar keeps himself fit.
Warne also refused to believe that it was the best-ever Indian team so far despite its recent victories over Australia and England.
"I think the best Indian team that I played against was my first one way back in 1991. But this current team is a bit tougher... and I think they can challenge for the No. 1 title in the world, only if Sachin remains fit," he said in reply to an e-mailed questionnaire.
Asked what set Tendulkar apart from all other cricketers of his era, Warne said he had perfect judgement of a bowler.
"Sachin is just a class above everybody else because of the way he judges the line and length of a bowler and the way he conducts himself on the pitch," he pointed out.
Warne, however, avoided commenting on how long the Indian batting maestro should go on to play cricket.
He defended Australia’s loss to India in the sub-continent, saying Ricky Ponting’s men were not on decline but other team’s were catching up with them.
"I think they’re playing excellent cricket, other sides are just catching up," Warne said.
"I think Australia is going through a change in period and India is always hard to beat in India... I thought it was a wonderful series and India just outplayed Australia and were a better team, there is no disgrace in that."
"Australia were in a position to win 3-0 against South Africa recently, but lost the series. But there are signs early in 2009 that Australia will be a very strong team," he added.
Recalling the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League, which he won captaining and coaching an underdog Rajasthan Royals team, Warne said it was a memorable experience.
"My experience was full of wonderful memories; I thoroughly enjoyed the team spirit that we created amongst our group. It was something I will always remember."
Warne justified his comments that Rajasthan Royals got him in cheap, saying it was indeed a lot less price paid by the franchise owner considering he led the team to title win.
"In the context of everything to have the captain and the coach as one person and looking back in hindsight, I’m sure Emerging Media would be very happy with the price they paid for me considering we won the whole competition. If I went on the market now I’m sure I’d get a lot more," he said, adding, "I’m very happy to be in Rajasthan Royals."
"Fitness is a very important aspect of the game; you have to be fit for your role, whatever your role in the team is," he said.
But Warne said that he remained a die-hard Test fan and enjoyed the format the most and did not feel that Twenty20 was a threat to its future. (PTI)