Bengaluru: The Royal Challengers Bangalore are a team of superstars. Be it Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, and Dale Steyn in the past, they have shown when it comes to building a team, they can push the bidding battle to any length until the player in their sights wears the red and the golden jersey.
In 2014, they spent R14 crore for Yuvraj Singh. And this time, the franchise splurged R9.5crore for Australia all-rounder Shane Watson, a player with a base price of R2 crore who hit the jackpot to became the highest paid player of the IPL 2016 auctions.
While newcomers Rising Pune Supergiants opened the bid, RCB followed closely till it reached R5.5 crore. Mumbai stepped in at R 6 crore, but RCB were not ready to lose Watson.
Although a key member of Rajasthan Royals till the team was suspended last year following the spot-fixing scandal, at 34 and with a history of breakdowns, it didn’t look like Watson would fetch much more than his base price. But it turned out to be different.
RCB director Amrit Thomas was excited by the outcome. “It was a great purchase. We were looking to buy Watson and got him for a bargain price. We wanted balance in the team, and for that wanted an international all-rounder. And you can judge by his recent performances as well.”
It seems to have taken Watson just three T20 games against India to turn his fortunes around. He was nowhere in Australia’s scheme of things since the disastrous India tour in 2013, when they lost 0-4 in the Test series. Watson, who has retired from Tests, returned to the Aussie T20 side after an impressive run in the recent Big Bash league.
In the first T20 at Adelaide, Watson struck twice in one over to remove Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, but he didn’t deliver with the bat. But it was vintage Watson in the final game as he put on a domineering show. He was leading in the absence of injured skipper Aaron Finch, and with the hosts 0-2 down. A strong start was crucial and Watson launched into the spinners, showing nimble footwork and brute force in his shots.
Though Watson’s century didn’t lead to a consolation win, it laid the platform for him in the IPL auctions. Last year, Watson scored 347 runs at an average of 43.37 from 10 matches for Rajasthan Royals. He hit a century against Kolkata Knight Riders to be chosen Man-of-the-Match.
He took only six wickets in the 2015 season, but his bowling can still be efffective. He mixes up deliveries and can bowl with the new ball or at the death.
With age seemingly no bar in T20 cricket worldwide, and with his all-rounder’s credentials, Watson could prove to be the complete package for RCB this season.