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Sometimes, a small scene so catches our fancy that it becomes the means for us to remember the movie it featured in. It might not have brought the twist in the story or affected the climax. But it’s sheer staging and direction is so magical.
Shane Watson’s101-run (61 balls) in Chennai could be likened to that mesmerising scene. A few years down the line when talking about the moments that made IPL 2013 special, Watson’s knock will be remembered with some mixed feelings.
It is not every day that such an innings is produced. And it is highly improbable that it ends up on the losing side. That’s the very thing that lends Watson’s first Twenty20 century its poetic quality.
After Rajasthan Royals’ heartbreaking five-wicket loss to the Chennai Super Kings, Watson was a bundle of mixed feelings. He was finally among the runs after a streak of low scores on Indian soil but those runs couldn’t help his team win. His brilliant innings was upstaged by an opposition batsman but he happened to be a man Watson so respects – Michael Hussey.
These mixed emotions came to the fore when Watson spoke to iplt20.com about his special innings, getting back to bowling after a gap of three months and a promise on behalf of his team to come back strong.
Do you finally feel at home in India now?
It’s nice to finally score some runs. I felt that I have been hitting the ball really well. In T20 you need a little luck as well to get your innings going. Unfortunately we weren’t able to finish well. It was an important game for us and we knew how crucial it was for us to be playing well against CSK.
Do you think a bit of support at the top order would’ve made a difference in the end?
I think 185 are a lot of runs on any ground. At the beginning of the match our mindset was probably 160-170 and we ended up with an above-par score. I thought Stuart Binny (36 off 22) was brilliant in the latter part of the innings to give us a further kick. We batted really well as a unit.
Not long ago you scored that stupendous 185 in an ODI. Today this whirlwind 101 – Do you feel differently on some days, do you just know that you’re going to do something special?
You do feel that way when you’re out there, more than anything else. At the end of the day you realise that when you woke up in the morning, things are going to be better than the last few games. But I think when you’re batting out there and a few things start falling your way, you just keep backing yourself. It’s amazing how certain days open up so beautifully for you and you actually have the day you dreamed about. These things don’t happen too often.
Is it a coincidence that this knock came a match after you started to bowl again?
It probably is! Look, I’m very excited to get back to bowling. It’s certainly something that I’ve missed in the last three months. It will probably take me another two games to fully find my feet and bowl exactly how I want to.
How’s the body holding up with the bowling?
I’m getting closer to being 100 per cent. A couple of more training sessions and games and my body will be absolutely ready to handle the rigours of bowling. It is holding up well generally but now it’s just the matter of it getting used to bowling again. On the whole I feel as good as I ever have. I’ve put in a lot of hard work during this period and hopefully, will reap the rewards for the coming 10 months or so. I was half-capacity without my bowling. It feels great to be bowling once again.
Mike Hussey stole your thunder?
Not at all! Any time you watch Michael Hussey bat, it’s a pleasure. To be able to see how much in control he is throughout the innings; it looks like he’s not taking any risks throughout his innings. We’re certainly going to miss him in the Australian team. One, he’s a great man but also the quality of his skills is amazing. Unfortunately he’s on the wrong side here but to watch him bat is always a great pleasure.
More often than not, when a Twenty20 innings worth 185 runs features an authoritative individual century, you expect to see messed up figures on the bowling scorecard. And the analysis ofChennai Super Kings’ bowling attack was no different after Shane Watson blitzed a 61-ball 101 at the Chepauk.
However, amidst the swelled up economy rates, there was an exception. It was R Ashwin’s four overs that went for mere 20 runs – an economy rate of five runs per over. To boot, his wicket column comprised Rajasthan Royals’ classical yet attacking Ajinkya Rahane and the in-form youngster Dishant Yagnik.
The two wickets ensured Watson didn’t get much support in the top-order. To Watson, Ashwin gave runs at a premium of a run-a-ball in the two overs he bowled at him.
It was a day of the batsmen – Watson’s ton was followed up by Michael Hussey’s 88 (51 balls) andSuresh Raina’s51 (35 balls) that eventually won the match for CSK – where Ashwin’s classical off-spinner to get rid of Rahane and the deceiving tossed-up delivery to get rid of Yagnik will not be remembered. But his contribution with the ball was noteworthy amidst the heist of runs.
After CSK’s five-wicket win over RR, iplt20.com caught up with Ashwin, who spoke about his bowling plans, adapting to match-situations and taking the responsibility of being the premier bowler of his team. Now, this is the time in the tournament when CSK start to peak as a team, isn’t it?
I would like to think so. We generally start peaking a little late in the tournament; we are slow starters. Having said that, this year has been pretty alright because we haven’t lost two games on the bounce. We’re happy with the way things have gone.
An eco-rate of five is not bad with Shane Watson batting like that.
When the entire bowling attack is under the pump I have to put my hands up, being probably the most experienced bowler in this bowling line-up. I have to stand up and deliver.
Has the strengthened pace attack of the team changed your role?
As bowlers we don’t have defined roles, saying you have to pick wickets or you have to contain runs. With me, the situation of the game warrants how I bowl. If there’s a small window for me to attack and pick up a wicket – like it was today – I go on the offense. They were off to a rollicking start but after the timeout I thought I had a couple of overs to toss the ball up and see what happens. Those are the windows that I try to make the most of and see what I can do in them. But there are other scenarios where you have to be smart and look to finish the over well, giving five, six runs or so.
You certainly don’t have to bowl a lot in the power-plays now?
This year I have bowled quite a few death overs as I have come into the attack pretty late. I have bowled a lot of 13th, 15th and 17th overs this season. We have a couple of overseas seamers and an Indian seamer which gives the captain many options to exploit in the power-play.
Today was different as you came into the attack in the sixth over. Was that because of Watson?
I would like to think so but I am not sure as we didn’t have a discussion on that. Watson was going great guns and the captain probably wanted to shut down that over well and look to get a breakthrough. Shane Watson made sure that I had to come early into the attack.
While Watson was going like that, it was important not to let partnerships build. You did that well by picking up a couple of top-order wickets.
I think Ajinkya is a good batsman in the sense that he can hurt you with the boundaries that are risk-free because he can pick gaps so well. He could’ve actually formed a lethal pair with Shane Watson in the power-play overs as he can rotate the strike while the boundaries come at the other end. So, to put brakes at the other end was very critical.
Overall it was not a very good day to be a bowler.
All in all, I thought we didn’t execute things really well with the ball and gave away 20 runs more. These days come in the T20 format and you need to learn to accept them in order to come back strong. As long as you learn from it and move on, you’ll be okay.
After bowling so well in the Test series, how was it for you to adjust to the T20 format?
It is very difficult but fortunately I have been bowling pretty well and ball has been coming out nicely. Having that form in one format helps you make better adjustments going into the other. There is a settling period that takes place but you generally carry the form forward.