Shane Watson. (TOI Photo)
CHENNAI: Shane Watson made a huge impact in the last two IPL finals. The Queenslander’s 57-ball 117 gave Chennai Super Kings their third IPL crown in 2018. A year later, it was a different story as Watson’s 59-ball 80 couldn’t carry CSK past the finish line as they lost to Mumbai Indians by 1 run.
In a chat with TOI on Tuesday, the 39-year-old spoke on the upcoming IPL season, how he rates CSK’s chances and more.
How tough is it to get ready for an event as challenging as IPL after the Covid-19 break?
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all lives, and at this point I feel fortunate to be able to play in a high-profile tournament like the IPL. There is no doubt that it is going to be challenging. But having played in it for years now, I know how to regain my skills and be ready before the tournament starts. Fortunately for us, we have about three weeks of training in Dubai before the first game and it will definitely help us.
How did you keep yourself engaged during this lockdown period?
I spent a lot of quality time with my family. I have also been busy with my new venture T20stars.com wherein I have put together videos, blogs and done podcasts by interviewing legends such as Sir Viv Richards, Wasim Akram and many others. I have learnt a lot about the game and life in general, and I hope those listening to it would have benefitted as well.
How do you rate CSK’s chances ahead of this season?
CSK’s chances are as good as all the other teams. Our team’s biggest plus has been the presence of experienced players and some exciting younger players. We have a terrific side led by MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming. With the kind of balance that our side possesses, I see no reason why we can’t have a terrific season ahead.
There has been a lot of speculation over Dhoni’s international career. Do you reckon he still has an international future?
MS still loves playing. He is an evergreen cricketer and it feels like he just doesn’t age. Look, with the kind of skills he has and the hard yards he puts in, MS can go on and play into his 40s. MS has been able to manage his body well. The way he is able to run consistently and showcase skills behind the stumps are just incredible. I am a big fan of MS and would want to see him continue playing whether it’s for CSK or internationally.
Last year’s IPL final saw CSK lose by just one run to MI. Is that one of the most heart-breaking games you have ever played?
It’s always shattering to come this close to winning the tournament like we did in the final against Mumbai Indians last year. MI was one of dominant teams in 2019, and for us, to have come this close was a terrific effort. There were so many positives for us from the last season and we will look to take that and start afresh this year.
With wickets in UAE not on the quicker side, do you feel it will suit CSK?
It definitely will. The pitches are going to be on the slower side. We have some high-quality spinners in our side and we should be able to capitalize.
How different will it be to play in front of empty stadiums in the UAE?
There is no doubt that the Yellow Army will be supporting us from far as they always do. It’s going to be a different experience and I will miss the rush that the crowds in Chennai always gave me. Having said that, we are playing for high stakes as the IPL is the best T20 tournament in the world and we have to quickly adapt.