On the YouTube channel, 'The Grade Cricketer, the two-time IPL winner discussed Gaikwad's talent as he bailed CSK out of trouble against the Mumbai Indians in their first match of the second leg of the IPL. The veteran was full of praise for Gaikwad, who made his T20I debut for India in the recent series against Sri Lanka.
Here's what Watson had to say about the CSK opener:
"Speaking of local talent, there's one guy that stands out for me. I saw him up close and personal with CSK in the last few years and it is Ruturaj Gaikwad. With Gaikwad under pressure and his team in a lot of trouble... to get an 88 not out and dominate to get his team to a match-winning total, in the end, is incredibly impressive."
The Australian was also mighty impressed with Gaikwad's ability to play against spin and praised his boundary-hitting abilities in the middle overs. Meanwhile, Watson was quick to address the fact that Gaikwad isn't one of the prototype hard-hitting T20 batsmen, but he stands out with his class and maturity.
"Even though he's a slight guy, not big, strong and powerful, he can hit boundaries," Watson pointed out. "Especially when there are five fielders outside the circle. So, that is super impressive to be honest. For me, he is one of the standouts.
"We've already seen it in the IPL," he added. "He is one of the leading run scorers. So it's super cool to see a young guy who is not necessarily this big, powerful, prototype T20 batsman, but he's got incredible skill to take anyone on, not just in the first six overs but through the middle and backend of the innings as well."
The Aussie went on to add that he was a tad surprised with CSK skipper MS Dhoni opting to bat first on a fresh wicket. But he quickly hailed his former captain, suggesting that MSD generally knows more than anyone else in cricket.
Shane Watson also weighed in on former CSK teammate, Suresh Raina's issues with the short ball
It's no secret that Suresh Raina has a tendency to be vulnerable against pacers. Despite his glaring vulnerabilities, Raina has managed to be a mainstay for CSK for a number of years.
Watson was certain that his former CSK teammate would be the first to admit that it wasn't one of his better innings when he played against the Mumbai Indians. The former all-rounder felt that Raina started playing high-risk shots to counter the short ball ploy.
"It just looked like he was premeditating totally every ball or some of those balls are going to be short and he was sort of giving himself some room and it just looked like he wasn't reacting or watching the ball super closely and just reacting to the ball that came down," Watson said. "So, yeah. It wasn't one of the better innings I have seen Raina play."
Interestingly though, Watson backed Raina, stating that the southpaw can play the short ball incredibly well when he plays it instinctively. He recalled that during all his matchups against Raina, he did bounce him out on a few occasions but believes that the CSK middle-order batsman is a much better player of the short ball than what people might suggest.
"The interesting thing is, when he bats instinctively, he plays the short ball incredibly well," Watson said. "When I used to play against him in RR vs CSK or even in international cricket, I bounced him quite a bit, especially early on in his innings. And when he's reacting to the ball, not premeditating that it is going to be short, he plays the short ball incredibly well.
"But then as we saw the other night against MI, as soon as he started premeditating that the ball is going to be short, that's when he does get himself into trouble and plays really high-risk shots," he added. "I'm sure he will look at it and rectify that in the next innings."
CSK take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their next IPL 2021 encounter on Friday evening.