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Watson, key cog in Aussie success story

cricket Updated: Nov 07, 2009 23:28 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
Hindustan Times
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Michael Hussey chose a fitting way to describe Shane Watson. "You get two players at the price of one," the Australia vice-captain said on Saturday when asked how the all-rounder adds to the balance of the side when in form.

For an Indian audience, the value of Watson had largely been reduced to his exploits for the Rajasthan Royals in the first year of the Indian Premier League. He was hurling the ball in at good pace and frequently scoring quick runs at the top of the order.

The epitome of power from Queensland didn't quite impress when he toured India a second time in 2008, having an ordinary run in the Test series which India won convincingly.

Back to the limited-over format, however, Watson is making some telling points and has been a key man in Australia's success in the ongoing ODI series so far. Not only is he providing solidity to the top of the order, he is also taking wickets at crucial junctures.

Coming off centuries in the Champions Trophy semi-final and final, Watson didn't do much of note in the first two games, but his huge presence has been felt as the series has progressed.

Two 40-plus scores were followed by a robust 93 in the fifth game with some clean and powerful hits over the ring which he made look elementary. In between, there were wickets as well including successive three-wicket hauls, the one in the fourth game in Mohali fetching him the Man-of-the-Match award.

Watson bowled with unmistakable effect in the fifth game too, getting the wickets of Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh.

That he got them conceding less than a-run-a-ball from 8.4 overs in a game that saw a run riot underlined the importance of his presence.

What India are missing in the form of Virender Sehwag becomes crucial in the light of Watson's success.

The hosts too expect Sehwag to contribute with bat and ball and after being reduced to a batsman only after a shoulder injury, the Delhi dynamite hasn't been as explosive with the bat as he can be.

This is something the Indians can only be envious of apart from trying to minimise Watson's effectiveness. “He's a hard worker and very professional when it comes to going about his job,” said Hussey. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team will have to display these traits and more to negate Watson immediately in order to stay in the series.