Old Royal, New king

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Apr 2018 11:03:51




SEASONED all-rounder Shane Watson, a former Rajasthan Royals player, slammed his third IPL century as Chennai Super Kings moved to their new ‘home’ by posting a huge 64-run win over RR in the Indian Premier League match on Friday night. Playing their first home game at Pune after their matches were shifted from Chennai, CSK posted a challenging 204 for five thanks to Watson’s century. The win propelled Chennai Super Kings to the top of points table with three wins and a loss from four games with a better net run rate. CSK were shepherded by the 36-year-old Australian, who hammered 106 from 57 balls, making full use of a dropped chance in the very first over on a flat track.

Chasing 205, Rajasthan crumbled under the mountain of runs as their innings folded at 140 from 18.3 overs. Their top order flopped miserably with Ajinkya Rahane scoring maximum 16 runs as South African Heinrich Klaasen (7) and Sanju Samson (2) falling cheaply.All hopes were on Ben Stokes but he too perished after scoring a fighting 45. In an attempt to clear an Imran Tahir delivery he holed up an easy catch to Sam Billings.Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Dwayne Bravo took two wickets each but it was Watson who bowled a tight spell of three overs and conceded only 13 runs for one wicket.

Earlier, Watson shared a 50-run stand with fellow opener Ambati Rayudu (12) and then raised a 81-run partnership for the second wicket with comeback-man Suresh Raina, who hit a fiery 46 off 29 balls with nine shots to the fence. Watson was in regal touch as the Australian pummelled Royals bowlers after being dropped in the opening over, bowled by Stuart Binny. With no assistance on offer, the bowlers needed to be disciplined with their line and length but they were guilty of bowling either too full or short.

Watson swung his arms when the ball was pitched outside off and positioned himself nicely against short and straight deliveries to find boundary after boundary. He hit nine fours and six sixes in his entertaining knock.If CSK could not post a more daunting total on board, it was because of Royals’ leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal, who stopped the run flow if not choked the CSK line-up, by accounting for three batsmen, including MS Dhoni in quick succession.Gopal conceded just 20 runs in his four-over quota.

Royals’ captain Ajinkya Rahane used five different bowlers in first five bowlers and it was Australian Ben Laughlin who got the first success as he removed Rayudu in the fifth. However already 50 runs were on the board and it was Watson who was the danger man. In came Raina and the left-hander creamed off four boundaries off Ben Stokes' over. The job only got tougher for Royals bowlers. At half-way mark, CSK were 107 for one. In no time, Watson was approaching his hundred and Raina, a half-century, but Gopal brought relief for Royals by getting the latter caught in deep by Gowtham.

There was no stopping Watson from the other end. He not only hit powerful shots but also used his wrists nicely for some delicate boundaries. Gopal though was doing a great job for his side as he stopped run flow by dismissing CSK captain MS Dhoni (5), who had enthralled his fans with a blistering fifty in the last match, and Sam Billings (3) in his successive overs. Watson completed his century in the 18th over and was out on penultimate ball of the innings.