'I came into the season with very low expectations, but with a lot of energy and excitement, and to be stood here now and have the season I had with such a great team and get us into the finals is incredibly exciting.'
Rajasthan Royals opening batter Jos Buttler, whose brilliant form has helped the team reach the final of IPL 2022, lavished praise on the late Shane Warne, calling him an "influential figure".
His comments came after his unbeaten 106 -- his fourth ton of the season -- powered the Royals to a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Qualifier 2, at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday.
Rajasthan Royals won the IPL in its inaugural season in 2008 under Warne's captaincy. Now, after 14 years the team from Rajasthan has made it to the summit clash of the tournament, against Gujarat Titans.
"Shane Warne is such an influential figure for the Rajasthan Royals. Having led the team to success in the first season, we will miss him dearly. But we know he is looking down on us with a lot of pride today," said Buttler, at the post-match presentation.
Spin legend Warne tragically passed away following cardiac arrest on March 4 in Thailand.
Buttler has had a blistering run in IPL 2022. With still a game left in the tournament, the Englishman has a whopping 824 runs, at an average of 58.86 and strike rate of 151.47, to his name.
"I came into the season with very low expectations, but with a lot of energy and excitement, and to be stood here now and have the season I had with such a great team and get us into the finals is incredibly exciting.
“I had a tournament of two halves. I had some really honest conversations with some close people around me, Kumar Sangakkara and Trevor Penney.
"I was feeling a bit of pressure, getting distracted and I was trying to suppress it and it was only until a week ago or so I opened up inside, and talking about that made me feel a lot better going into Kolkata.
“That innings gave me the confidence that helped today. I am always trying to play the game, what is the game asking me to do any particular time and what skill-set do I have to try and use on that particular day," he said.
Coming to the match, fine knocks by openers Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal (21 off 13 balls), followed by a cameo from Samson (23 off 21 balls), helped Rajasthan Royals chase down the target of 158 runs in just 18.1 overs.
Earlier, Prasidh Krishna and Obed McCoy scalped three wickets each as RCB posted 157 for 8.