After enduring a poor run in IPL 2019, Shane Watson announced his comeback to form in the most swashbuckling way possible. He smashed 96 runs off 53 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday to take Chennai Super Kings back to the top of the IPL points table, much to the relief of his fans.
Though the Australian missed out on his first century of this year’s IPL by four runs, he did enough damage to ensure his side's eighth win in 11 matches so far.
Before the match against Sunrisers on Tuesday, Watson had suffered failures in practically all 10 matches CSK had played in the tournament. However, the team management kept faith in the all-rounder, who wasn't left out in any of the matches.
MS Dhoni and Co. have eventually reaped the rewards of their faith, and it is anybody's guess how greatly this innings will spur Watson on for the remainder of the tournament.
Chasing a mammoth total of 175 runs at MA Chidambaram, Watson faced his first 13 deliveries cautiously, scoring just 10 runs. Come the 14th, Watson smashed Khaleel Ahmed for a six and then a four, and there was no stopping him after that.
He took on every SRH bowler, be it Sandeep Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar or even Rashid Khan, smashing them for boundaries all around.
The Australian batsman brought up his first half-century in the tournament in just 34 deliveries.
The Rashid vs Watson battle
Having lost Faf Du Plessis early in the chase, the onus was on Suresh Raina and Watson to chase down the total. The two were doing the job perfectly, scoring 60 runs in just seven overs. However, a Rashid Khan mystery was waiting ahead of them which still needed to be solved if CSK wanted to win the match.
As many expected, Rashid foxed Suresh Raina with his leg-breaks and googlies. Raina failed to read the Afghanistan spinner and eventually got stumped in his second over of the innings.
What followed was the battle that everyone was waiting for. The battle between Rashid and Watson on Tuesday has to be listed as one of the best passages of play in this year’s IPL.
Everything was going nicely in the chase before Rashid brushed his shoulders against Watson’s in his first over. And that turned things sour for the Afghanistan spinner.
Touted as one of the best leg-spinners in the world, Rashid was smashed a four and a six in his third over by a pumped-up Watson, followed by a 15-run fourth over.
The Australian batsman collected 30 runs off Rashid alone, including two sixes and two fours, while facing 12 deliveries.
Interestingly, Rashid has bowled to Watson in nine innings and hasn’t been able to take his wicket on a single occasion. Watson and Ambati Rayudu are in fact two of the three batsmen to have never been dismissed by Rashid in T20s (minimum 30 balls faced).
Perhaps Rashid will be cautious about engaging in a war of words or shoves with the Australian cricketer going forward.
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