Pune: Shane Watson is in the twilight of his career, but on Friday night, he proved the old saying right of class remaining permanent.
He scored a classy hundred against his former team Rajasthan Royals as the Chennai Super Kings got off to a winning start at their new home ground at the MCA International Stadium. MS Dhoni-led side not only defeated the visitors by 64 runs but also propelled CSK to the top of the table.
The 36-years-old all-rounder’s 106 off 57 balls was laced with nine fours and six sixes, as Watson cleared the fence with ease treating 1000-odd travelling CSK fans with a batting masterclass.
Although, Watson’s innings would have ended after just five balls had Rahul Tripathi not dropped a sitter off Stuart Binny’s bowling. The worthy man-of-the-match later spoke elaborately about the support CSK gets around the country, making the opportunities count, and playing under various skippers as the press conference lasted long into the night past midnight.
“No doubt that it’s incredibly sad that we aren’t playing in Chennai. Obviously, there are some issues going on there which are sad for our franchise that we can’t play there,” he said.
“The first game we played I was fortunate to play in Chennai, that atmosphere, even though only half the ground was open, it was electric. That was something that I’ve never really experienced before,” he added.
The CSK team management and Maharashtra Cricket Association have put up a tremendous work to get the stadium ready in barely eight days, as it donned the yellow colours of CSK making players feel at home. But it’s not just Pune where Watson enjoyed the electric crowd support.
“It doesn’t surprise me knowing how passionate CSK fans are. One of the big surprises was in Mumbai, to be able to see half the ground support Chennai.
I’ve never played in Mumbai previously when half the ground is supporting the team I was playing. CSK fans are incredibly passionate and it didn’t surprise me at all to be able to see the fans here.” added the former Australian cricketer.
“There is no doubt that things went my way. Fifth ball of the innings, some days you mis-hit and the edges get dropped. That’s the way it happens,” recalled Watson.
“Some days people take good catches off good balls. When things go my way, like it did tonight, I try to make the most of them. My real motivation was that I was playing my old team Rajasthan, and I am happy it worked,” he said, as he made his former employers pay dearly. He also added that he fully understands the business aspect of franchise cricket, as Rajasthan did not pick him up in the auction but Chennai did.
Skippering the side
Shane Watson, who has previously captained Rajasthan Royals have also played under some of the big names of the game in his IPL career. He considers himself lucky to play under the likes of Shane Warne, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli and now MS Dhoni.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have played with those guys really. Warne had his incredible skill and tactical tenacity as a captain and as a bowler.”
“Then, there’s Rahul Dravid who’s probably not as aggressive as in his field placements are on the ground but he was a great captain. He got the best out of players that he had at Rajasthan,” he said about two legends of the games.
“Playing with Virat, well he has his passion, has his intensity n every single game, which is why he’s so incredibly good. Him pushing everyone around to have that intensity every game as well,” he added about Indian skipper.
“And now MSD, I’ve always watched him from far away. He’s so incredibly calm… Well, he looks calm, maybe not so on the inside but he looks calm. Also, how he tactically reads the game, he’s hardly ever out in regards to his intuitions regarding the fielding of the game,” said Watson.
“So… to get to know these people is itself a huge privilege when you get to play these type of tournaments and get to know them off the field, understand exactly what makes them great, how to go about their preparation, how they go about their life apart from cricket as well. It’s a pretty cool place to be in and I’m making the most of this opportunity,” Watson signed off.