SHANE Watson’s brilliant 124 might have come in a losing cause but with the IPL auction scheduled next week, the Australian all-rounder has no doubt summoned the franchises’ notice. The burly Australian all-rounder will have to seek a new abode, after Rajasthan Royals were suspended from IPL for two years. (REPORT: India win thriller)
His experience was invaluable for a side defected by the absence of regulars. And he handled the extra responsibility of captaincy, handed over to him after Aaron Finch was injured in the last match, without any fuss. He single-handedly inspired them to a competitive tally (124 out of 197 came off his blade).
Yet again, he show-cased his boundary-hitting ability-10 boundaries and half-a-dozen sixes scorched off his bat. Many had questioned why he was being wasted down the order, and he duly vindicated their logic. With no Finch and David Warner, who travelled to New Zealand to prepare for the series there, Watson finally secured a chance to bat at the top.
He made most of the opportunity and expressed his delight to open the innings, where he had looked most convincing in the shorter versions. He definitely would be in the T20 World Cup scheme, and the knock could prove timely enough to fetch him a healthy deal in the IPL auction. “It was good timing, no doubt. But knowing that Rajasthan Royals unfortunately aren’t playing for the next two years is extremely sad and disappointing. But it’s worked out nicely in that (auction’s) regard,” he says.
It was a lucky break for Watson, as Australia for a while have been averse to experimenting with their top-order batsmen in shorter version. Finch and Warner had formed a strong pair at the top while Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith were immovables in the middle, meaning Watson has to comply by the team management’s decisions.
But that’s when Cricket Australia decided to send a few players to New Zealand while several others were rested. So they were forced to make as many as five changes in the final T20. It might seem like a lack of continuity. But Watson fully understands the reasoning behind the decision.
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“They’ve had a big summer, they’ve come off just about non-stop cricket as well. It’s also one of the reasons why I retired from Test cricket because it is non-stop. There’s no doubt that it’s unfortunate because the series is so close, that guys have come in and out than what would have normally happened. The preference would have been, no doubt, to have more continuity with our team. The way the schedules work nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to get your best team out every time you play, until it’s in the lead up to the T20 World Cup or those against teams like South Africa,” says Watson, who feels the situation would have been different if the schedule hasn’t been as tight.
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With the way India has played in the three T20s, Watson doesn’t hesitate to place them among the favourites to claim the T20 World Cup. “I think, no matter what, they would have always been the favourite. Obviously, conditions are different in India, and they have so many world class players, especially in the batting and spin-bowling point of view, which is very important in India. I think no matter how things panned out here, they were always going to be the favourites. And the way the handled the pressure in the 2011 World Cup, they know how to play well at home in big tournaments. There’s no surprises with them going in as favourites,” he remarks.