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Watson could join Gilchrist at top

Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has staked the right to partner Gilchrist at the top order, writes G Krishnan.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 12:22 IST
G Krishnan

Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has staked the right to partner Adam Gilchrist at the top of the order in the Champions Trophy.

He seems to have pushed behind his competitor Simon Katich, who was left out of Australia's final practice game against Mumbai on Sunday.

Wicket-keeper Gilchrist hinted that Watson could be opening with him in Australia's first match of the tournament against West Indies here on Wednesday.

“Shane has got an opportunity and he has taken it extremely well,” Gilchrist said. “We have a variety of options at our disposal. We have used a few of those and Shane has definitely put his best foot forward.”

The 34-year-old from New South Wales added: “Simon (Katich) has been in and around the team. He has not done anything different.

“There is no denying the fact that people do get disappointed when left out of the team. I am sure Kato's no different. He has handled it very well and understands the situation.

“You never know, he may still feature in this tournament, you never know what the situation may be,” Gilchrist added.

Australia have employed four different opening combinations in their last four matches - Phil Jacques and Katich, Jacques and Watson, Matthew Hayden and Katich, and Watson and Katich - all in Malaysia. And before that, in their earlier 10 ODIs, it was Gilchrist and Katich who opened the innings.

Looking ahead at the opening game against West Indies, Gilchrist said: “We understand that the CCI pitch is keeping a bit low and we will try and ensure that between now and Wednesday, we will sum up those conditions. It is good that the Australia played Windies recently.

We will discover on that experience from KL.” Gilchrist missed last month's DLF Cup for family reasons and before that, Australia last played an ODI in March this year. Thus Gilchrist is raring to go.

“I feel really good and fresh and feel the two practice games have just been enough to get back. It doesn't take long to get back into the groove. One positive from that break is that I have been as fit as I've been for a number of years and come back with a keener, eager approach.”

Asked about Glenn McGrath's bowling rhythm after his return, Gilchrist said: “He's pretty good. He feels that he is certainly not where he wanted to be but he is getting there, the gap's getting smaller and smaller.”

On his lead spinner Brad Hogg, the leftarm chinaman operator who will come handy in the subcontinent conditions, Gilchrist said, “Brad has been in the starting XI but we have got to finalise that.”

Gilchrist added, ‘Today (against Mumbai), he tried to bowl a good spell. He changed his pace well, bowled well to a plan and that is encouraging."