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Depleted Australians pin hopes on Shane Watson

The last time Shane Watson was in India with the Australia side, sparks flew as the ‘homework-gate’ controversy erupted under former coach Mickey Arthur. Kushal Phatarpekar reports

cricket Updated: Oct 09, 2013 10:17 IST
Kushal Phatarpekar

The last time Shane Watson was in India with the Australia side, sparks flew as the ‘homework-gate’ controversy erupted under former coach Mickey Arthur.

As they prepare to face India, ironically, the young players in the squad will depend on Watson to help them with their homework for the limited-overs series.

Fresh from his stint with the Rajasthan Royals, the all-rounder joined the Australia squad on Tuesday along with James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Johnson and Glenn Maxwell, who were playing for their respective franchises in the Champions League T20.

In the absence of regular skipper Michael Clarke, who incidentally was one of the protagonists in the fiasco that led to Watson being dropped for the third Test of that series in March, Watson will be the senior-most player in the side.

A challenge for most visiting teams coming to India is adjusting to the conditions quickly. Watson, who played for over three weeks in the CLT20, could provide vital inputs about the India players and conditions.

In charge
On Tuesday, Watson was seen taking charge during the team’s practice session. The burly New South Wales player donned the mantle of mentor and had one-to-one interaction with a few players.

According to Australia’s top-order batsman Adam Voges, Watson’s wealth of experience in India is an advantage for the team.

“Shane is a senior player, he along with players like Brad Haddin bring a wealth of experience, particularly here in India. He has played a lot of cricket here. If and when he gives any tips to our guys, I am sure we are all listening,” said the right-hand batsman.

Incidentally, Watson was the highest wicket-taker for Australia and third highest run-getter in 2009 when they last toured India for a limited-overs series.

The Australians go into the series with an opportunity to wrest the No 1 spot from India. Their hopes will be pinned on the all-rounder, but only time will tell whether Watson can lead the way for the visting Australians.

Batting has been fine
“I think our one-day batting has been okay. We played pretty well against England in their conditions. Obviously the Champions Trophy didn’t go as we would have liked but I thought the way we bounced back against England in England was pretty good.

“We’ll take a lot of confidence out of that as a batting group and we’ve got some continuity I guess with our batters.

“We know our role and a good start to our batting group will be very crucial,” Voges signed off.

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