Australian cricketer Shane Watson has been one of the greats of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He has represented Rajasthan Royals (RR), Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) over 13 seasons of the cash-rich league.
In 13 years, Watson has played 145 games and has scored 3,874 runs at an average of 30.99 and has taken 92 wickets – including a hat-trick against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the 2014 edition.
Even though he might be in the twilight of his career and most likely has played his last IPL game against KKR on Thursday, 29 October, Watson has had some of the best time with the bat for CSK, after getting picked by them in the 2018 mega auction.
The then 37-year old was in prime hitting form as he amassed 555 runs in 15 matches, and was one of the big reasons for CSK winning the title in 2018.
Over three years, playing for the franchise, Watson has scored 1,252 runs in the 43 matches he has played, at an average of 30.98 with 7 fifties and 2 centuries.
Watson retired from the Big Bash League after the 2018-19 season, but still continued to ply his trade in the IPL and the Pakistan Super League (PSL). Although his form has tapered off in the last two seasons, Watson has time and again showed, why he is considered a superstar in this format, with that powerful backlift and marauding strokeplay of his.
Here we look at five of the best moments Watson has had, playing in the CSK yellow, over three seasons:
1. 117* (57) in 2018 IPL Final vs SRH
Chasing 179 in the final against the Sunrisers, CSK had a poor start as Watson wasn’t able to get away that quickly and they lost the wicket of Faf du Plessis, in the 3rd over.
Watson scored his first run on his 7th ball of the innings. Still, he wasn’t able to time the ball as well as he would have liked. After being on 8 (16), Watson, after having spent some time, started finding the ball in the middle of the bat and it went only one route.
Watson smashed every Sunrisers’ bowler to all parts of the ground. From a backfoot punch to his sheer brute power, it was vintage Watson on show that day as after hitting one six, he didn’t look back and creamed everything after that, hitting 11 fours and 8 sixes.
He remained unbeaten and completed his fourth century in the IPL, thereby taking CSK to their third title.
2. 106 (57) vs RR in IPL 2018
Playing against his former franchise, this was the day when Watson arrived for CSK in the IPL. Batting first, Watson opened the innings with Ambati Rayudu. He was dropped in the first over itself when he was at 8 and was dropped once more, this time a little more difficult chance but a drop nevertheless, when he was batting on 18. But, after that, he just took off and derailed the Rajasthan Royals train.
From straight powerful sixes to late cuts and finding gaps consistently, Watson timed the ball beautifully and scored his first century of the 2018 edition.
Completing his 100 off 51 balls, his 106 was the main reason that CSK could reach a score of 214. CSK won the game by 64 runs in a one-sided encounter owing to Watson’s spectacular knock.
3. 78 (40) against Delhi Daredevils (DD) in 2018
This was unlike any other Watson innings. Generally, he takes time to get set, get a feel of the surface and then go for his shots. On this day, he didn’t waste any time and started hitting the Delhi Daredevils’ bowlers from the first over itself.
Whether it was Trent Boult, Liam Plunkett or the leg-spinning duo of Amit Mishra and Rahul Tewatia, Watson didn’t leave any Delhi bowler as he hit everything out of the boundary.
Hitting 7 sixes and just 4 fours, Watson batted at the strike rate of 195 as his 78 (40) went a long way in ensuring CSK got a strong total of 211 on the board. CSK won the game eventually by 13 runs as Rishabh Pant’s quickfire 79 helped DD in posing a tough challenge to them.
4. 96 (53) vs SRH in IPL 2019
After clobbering 555 runs in the 2018 edition, Watson didn’t have the best of starts to his 2019 season. After getting starts and not being able to carry them on, Watson finally found his old self against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, again, after that blitzkrieg in the 2018 final.
Chasing 176, Watson took his usual own sweet time, before setting his eye in. CSK lost du Plessis in the first over and Watson found an able partner in Suresh Raina.
After being on 10 (14), Watson hit a six over square-leg to Khaleel Ahmed and he was back. After that, he took the toll of every SRH bowler, hitting 9 fours and 6 sixes and got out just before the finishing line – four short of his 5th hundred in the league.
CSK won the game eventually by 6 wickets, as they required only 16 runs off 18 balls when he got out.
5. 83* (53) vs KXIP in 2020
CSK’s formula of ‘Why fix if it ain’t broke’ finally bore fruit when Watson showed the shades of what only he can do. Watson has time and again given credit to CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming for backing him to the hilt and he repaid that faith once again, in this edition.
After a string of low-scores and CSK being at the bottom of the table, Watson just inspired the languishing side. Chasing 179, his opening partner du Plessis took the early initiative to score quick runs. After getting a few lucky boundaries through edges and misfields, Watson was set and took apart the Kings XI bowling attack.
Particularly severe on the spinners Harpreet Brar and Ravi Bishnoi, Watson picked his spots and muscled everything into the stands that was in his area.
He may not be the Watson everybody knows, but he surely reminded the viewers, the critics and himself, what he is capable of doing with the bat in hand.
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