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IPL 2019 Watson Displays Tenacity of Old in Welcome Return to Form

CSK win the toss and elect to field. SRH score in the 170s.

Shane Watson plays out a maiden in the first over of the chase, bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. At the end of the first four overs, CSK are 16 for 1, having lost Faf du Plessis.

And then, Watson takes over and blasts CSK to victory.

The events on Tuesday (April 23) were as close as it got to the final of IPL 2018. Watson was the hero that night, as he was on this occasion.

Yet, there were plenty of differences in the Watson of the two seasons. In that game, Watson was an in-form batsman expected to do the job. This time around, Watson had question marks over his place having managed only 147 runs from 10 matches. He hasn’t bowled this season as well, leading to questions on his value in the side. It didn’t help that CSK’s batting was completely relying on one man – MS Dhoni.

But as he often does, Dhoni persisted with his player, and he delivered. Watson smashed 96 off 53 balls to help CSK chase a tricky 176, taking the team to the top of the table and putting them on the brink of qualification.

Watson got going, targeting Khaleel Ahmed and Shakib Al Hasan, but just when he was shifting gears, he lost Suresh Raina who was doing bulk of the scoring. Watson was on 35 off 29 then, CSK needing 96 runs in the last ten overs.

But like he had done in the final last year, Watson kept going, taking a liking to Sandeep Sharma and smashing him for two fours and a six in the 12th over. The threat of Rashid Khan was still around, but even he couldn’t stop Watson.

The duo had an altercation in the middle, and it was Watson who ended on the right side of it. Rashid’s third over went for 16 runs and the final over went for 15, Watson smashing two fours and two sixes. Rashid finished with 1-44, with Watson coming on top in the battle.

Manish Pandey solves Hyderabad’s middle-order woes?

Like CSK, SRH too had an out-of-form batsman striking big. Manish Pandey scored an unbeaten 83 off 49 balls, powering SRH to 175 for 3 in 20 overs.

Pandey seemed a man on the mission from the moment he took guard. He was dropped from the side for the last three matches, and had a point to prove. Even when in the side, he saw the likes of Vijay Shankar and Deepak Hooda bat above him.

There was reason for Hyderabad benching Pandey too, as he had scored only 54 runs from five innings this season. It just wasn’t good enough, especially given Sunrisers Hyderabad’s troubles after Jonny Bairstow and David Warner.

Coming into the game against Chennai Super Kings in Chennai, Sunrisers were dealt with a big blow with Kane Williamson flying back home. On what was expected to be a sluggish Chepauk track, Williamson was the perfect batsman to handle CSK’s spin barrage.

But Williamson’s absence was just the sort of opportunity Pandey needed, and he ensured he grabbed it with both hands. Pandey showed he can do the job too, as he has done numerous times in the domestic circuit.

Pandey walked in in the second over – a rarity this season given the forms of Bairstow and Warner. When Bairstow nicked Harbhajan Singh behind for a first-ball duck, Hyderabad seemed in big trouble, unless Warner stood up again.

Warner did stand up once again, but it was Pandey who shone. He began with intent, smashing Harbhajan over mid-off the very first ball. He followed it up with a six in the off-spinner’s next over.

CSK were playing only two pacers, and had no option but to bowl Harbhajan in the Power Play. Pandey, though, took the attack to Harbhajan who went for 31 in his first three.

Pandey had scored 27 off 12 balls in the Power Play, and kept the rate after that too. His 50 came off just 25 balls, but he couldn’t quite finish as well as he began.

Pandey’s last 24 balls yielded only 33 runs, with just two boundaries. The sapping humidity and the older ball made life difficult for him. Hyderabad scored just 41 runs in the last five.

It wasn’t enough for this game, but Pandey’s form is just the kind of boost Hyderabad need, especially given they won’t have Bairstow for the rest of the season.

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IPL 2019 Watson Displays Tenacity of Old in Welcome Return to Form


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