Chennai: It’s been two years since Aussie allrounder Shane Watson hung his boots at the international level. Watson, the T20 specialist, carried on though. Admittedly, Watson endured a “worst” IPL with the Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.
Watson, 36, entered the IPL fray with a base price of Rs 1 crore. Even as top names such as Hashim Amla, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root went unsold, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) backed the old Aussie warhorse, who emerged a title-winning allrounder for the Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural IPL in 2008, for Rs 4 crore. Two months later, it seems to be an apt choice as Watson happens to be the hottest cricketer going around in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) representing Quetta Gladiators.
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The medium-pace bowling allrounder tops the batting chart with 262 runs in seven matches at an average of 43.67 as an opener and is eighth on the bowling list, bagging eight wickets at an economy of 7.04.
Even as the previous season’s numbers weren’t in favour of Watson, CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan said the team management looked into his “form and potential” before buying him at the auction. “We knew his potential as an allrounder. Anyone can have a bad season. We discussed with our captain MS Dhoni about the prospects of having Watson in the team and Dhoni was happy. We felt Watson still has a lot to offer. When we found out that he is fit and doing well in Big Bash League, we backed him. He has been terrific in the ongoing PSL as well. We are pleased with the way he has been shaping up,” Viswanathan told TOI.
CSK’s affinity towards pace-bowling allrounders is well-known. The likes of Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith in tandem have played an integral part in the success of CSK over the years. With Bravo back in the yellows, Watson could well be a perfect foil for the dynamic West Indian allrounder. Viswanathan said it was a “conscious effort” to rope in such an allrounder in the mix.
“Watson fits into the type of allrounders we have had in the past. Watson is a floater with the bat. He can preferably open but move around the order too. It was a conscious effort to have such a cricketer in the mix. We need someone alongside Bravo. We now have two quality allrounders in Watson and New Zealand’s left-arm spinning Mitchell Santner. We have all bases covered for different types of pitches with the presence of these guys,” said Viswanathan.
Watson’s international career has been plagued with numerous injuries. However, with him retiring in 2016, Viswanathan mentioned that he was getting adequate rest before featuring in any T20 league. “The fact that he is retired and not playing much cricket meant that he will be fresh. It proved when he played the Big Bash and performed admirably (for Sydney Thunders). We have also been monitoring his fitness,” said Viswanathan.