CHENNAI: After three successive losses, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) were able to finally heave a sigh of relief on Sunday with their 10-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab. Nobody is likely to be more relieved than Shane Watson, who had scored a total of 52 runs in the first four games.
CSK, of course, stuck to their tried-and-tested method of backing their experienced players and will feel vindicated after the 39-year-old smashed an unbeaten 83 on Sunday. With Faf du Plessis also continuing his rich vein of form at the other end, the opening partnership sealed a commanding win.
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While Watson’s confidence has now been restored, the CSK camp will need to be aware that there are tougher tests to come. On Sunday too, Watson had a slice of good fortune. In just the second over of the run chase, Watson played and missed a couple of balls from Mohammed Shami that could so easily have dismissed him on another day.
Once he got into his stride, he took full toll against an indifferent Kings XI bowling unit, but other teams – including Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday – might not give him such a luxury.
Regardless, though, he seems to have the full backing of the CSK leadership. According to both skipper MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming, there was nothing wrong with Watson’s game and it was simply a matter of time.
“He didn’t do anything different for the Kings XI game, which is the strength of an experienced player. If Watson had been struggling in the nets and looking out of touch, we may have had a selection issue. But he has been nothing but solid and doing his work in practice. It was a matter of time and a little bit of good fortune. If he gets on a roll, he will be very important to us,” Fleming said.
It still remains to be seen whether he can get on a roll. Last season, he hit just one half-century in 14 matches at the group stage before striking form in the knockout phase. Even if Watson doesn’t quite find consistency in the coming games, Fleming remains very clear that he and the other seniors in the team will continue to be backed.
“The players know they will get a lot more opportunities. We are reticent to change the team just because things are not going well. If we see an area we are not happy with, we will try and improve it and change players if needed. But if they are doing the right thing, we will back them,” assessed Fleming.



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