Mumbai: ‘Old is Gold’, they say, and it was the same old guard of Chennai Super Kings thwarted Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday night at the Wankhede Stadium to lift the coveted Indian Premier League trophy.
In February, when coach Stephen Fleming picked up players in the IPL auction, a few eyebrows were raised looking at the age column of the players who would wear the yellow of CSK.
Right from the skipper MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Murli Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, who was eventually injured after the very first match, the list is of players who are all over 30.
There were doubts whether these senior pros will go all the way or not, but from time to time they stood up and delivered when it mattered.
Be it Dwayne Bravo guiding CSK home in the tournament opener or Faf du Plessis taking Chennai into the final or be it Shane Watson, who single-handedly took the game away from Sunrisers in the final.
The winning skipper was but obviously asked about the same and Dhoni expressed that fitness is what matters the most.
“We talked a lot about age but what matters is the fitness. Rayudu, for example, is 33, he’s someone who is fit, covers a lot of ground. Even if he plays a few games where he spends a lot of time on the ground and in the field, he never complains. So it is the fitness that really matters more than the age aspect,” Dhoni said.
Praise for Watson
Watson, who scored unbeaten 117, received a lot of praise from not just coach Stephen Fleming but the opposition captain Kane Williamson as well.
“It was a good struggle, the opening spell was outstanding from Sunrsiers. Shane gradually found a bit of rhythm and range. He kept patience and didn’t give it away. He knew his power game would get the team out of trouble. He has been a star performer for us,” said Fleming, who had watched the former Australian closely during the Big Bash League before picking him in the auction.
“With RCB, Watson batted No 4 position in 2017 IPL and I could see he was in good form. I had no doubt he was going to make an impact. Fitness was an issue as it is a long tournament but he is more professional than I thought. In bowling we didn’t have to use him much but he has got through one of his greatest performances.” the the Kiwi coach added.
Another New Zealander, Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper, too accepted that the brilliant innings from Watson took the game away from his side.
“I think that was a brilliant innings. We thought that 180-mark, was a really good target and you saw that from our first overs and wasn’t very easy to get away. I think from that point onward, that innings of Shane Watson got them to play and anyone who turns out with an innings of 100 plus in the final, it was obviously a significant effort and great contribution to their side and very difficult to stop, so a fantastic knock,” he concluded.