NEW DELHI: Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni had a big hand in Shane Watson emerging as the player of the IPL final against Sunrisers Hyderabad last Sunday. Knowing that Watson had a hamstring problem, Dhoni ensured that the Australian all-rounder was fit enough to bat by making sure that he hadn’t much to do while fielding. That move paid off rich dividends as Watson produced a match-winning knock.
Watson, who opened the innings for CSK the whole season, played the last four league matches with a hamstring injury. The niggle wasn’t very serious but he couldn’t bowl in the last four matches, starting from the May 18 game against the Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla, and even missed out on last league match against Kings XI Punjab.
Watson also didn’t bowl in the first qualifier against the Sunrisers Hyderabad and again in the IPL final against the same opposition in Mumbai. To ensure Watson remains fit for batting, Dhoni took good care of the Australian cricketer by making him field within the 30-yard circle. The CSK captain also ensured a fielding position for Watson, wherein he had to move less on the field.
Kashi Vishwanath, CEO of CSK, he confirmed that Watson was suffering with an injury but it wasn’t very serious. “It’s true that Watson wasn’t 100 per cent fit. He had niggle, but the team kept him in good shape for the big final,” Kashi said on Wednesday.
By the time, CSK played the final, Watson’s niggle wasn’t in good shape and, at time, he struggled to take singles. That is why he adopted an aggressive approach and sent the Sunrisers’ players on a leather hunt. He took 11 deliveries initially to get his first run on the board and finished with an unbeaten score of 117 off 57 deliveries with the help of 11 fours and eight hits over the fence.
Out of 15 games that he played for CSK, Watson, who is the fifth highest scorer, made 555 runs with two centuries and two fifties. He also struck 35 sixes in the tournament, the second highest after Delhi’s Rishabh Pant, with a strike rate of 154.59.