Chennai: Shane Watson regained his lost touch, scoring an unbeaten 96 to help Chennai Super Kings get back to winning ways as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets at the MA Chidambaram stadium here, Tuesday.
By virtue of the win CSK also became the first team this IPL to booked a spot in the playoffs.
Chasing a target of 176 set by SRH after their batsmen Manish Pandey and David Warner scored fifties, CSK openers, Watson and Faf du Plessis struggled to score early on, du Plessis even lost his wicket early. However it was Watson’s show a the way as he stayed at one end and anchored the run chase, which gave us a glimpse of last year’s IPL’s final.
He however could not score a century and was dismissed for 96 but made it easy for other batsmen to finish the game. Speaking at the press conference, Watson credited skipper MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming for keeping faith in his batting abilities.
“Their faith in me is something that I will really appreciate. Because had I been in any other team, it would have made me to miss out for not scoring runs for as long as I had throughout the tournament. Especially in the previous team that I was in, I would have dropped me a long time ago. Stephen Fleming and Dhoni kept the faith in me knowing that I had a really good innings in me, Personally for me, carrying the form in PSL and coming into IPL flying high and then things not going my way, I lost my rhythm in my batting. So it was just the faith and I was really grateful that I could repay them with this knock,” he said.
When asked about the reason for his struggle, he said, “The conditions here have been a bit dry compared to the other years that I have played the IPL, especially coming back from BBL and PSL where conditions are not dry. In these wickets apart from a couple, the balls turned more and there was inconsistent bounce and pace in the wicket and I lost my rhythm completely. I had to work on some technical things to get my batting into the groove. In the end you need a bit of luck as well. Bhuvi worked me over initially and I struggled to get the innings going but it was once of those days where everything went nicely.”
CSK top order did not perform well in the last few matches and in the last game Dhoni also said that the batsmen at the top needs to step up, with Watson immediately playing a good knock after that, he said he wanted to make sure he got the game deeper.
“There is pressure when top order is not performing and I was the one starting the rut, getting out in the first few overs and putting pressure on the other batsmen. As a team, we know that our top order has to be a little bit more circumspective and get into the innings bit more and take the game deeper. Being four down after powerplay just leaves too much to Dhoni and Rayudu and the rest of the guys and that was one thing I got to make sure in particular that I take the game a little bit deeper so that there is no pressure on the guys as much as it has been.”
He also credited the bowling, especially Deepak Chahar for the way he restricted the scoring. “The way they batted they could have easily got 190. Look Deepak Chahar is bowling incredibly well and from last year to this year, his bowling has gone sky-high, he is skillful and swings the ball bothways. But the thing that stands out to me is his defensive bowling. He executes his options well and under pressure he is incredibly good as well and there is no question that it got us the momentum back because chasing 180 or 190 would have been a difficult to chase.”
On asked whether his role as a batsman only is putting a lot of pressure on him, he said “Its bit of a double edged sword. The reason why I stopped bowling was because I keep getting calf injuries. If I keep pushing my body there is less chances of staying fit so it has made me look after my body and stay fitter with no injuries. It’s different ball game not being an all-rounder. As an all rounder I always like to contribute with the ball if I failed with my bat. Now it is all my batting but i do trust it as it gives me more longevity and chances of staying fit,” he concludes.
Shakib Al Hasan, who returned to the playing eleven for Sunrisers said that the plan was to get Watson out early. “The first plan was to get him out as we know how dangerous he is once he gets set. He will be difficult to get out and the power with which he hits, sometimes mis-hits would even go for sixes.”
He also credited the way Manish Pandey payed at number three in pace of Kane Williamson and said he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. “Since Kane was not there it gave the opportunity for the team to push someone at number three and Manish grabbed the opportunity with both hands, from the first ball, he looked in good nick and hopefully he continues the form for us.”
On sitting in the dugout for such a long time, he said he knew it will be tough to get a chance in the team with the way the fellow foreigners played. “As a professional we know our job and the way our overseas players performed, there was no place for me and it was hard to get chance, I need to make sure that whenever the opportunity comes I need to contribute for the team.”
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