The independent voice of cricket

Indian Premier League 2019

IPL 2019 daily brief: Shane Watson on the loose again

by Akshay Gopalakrishnan

One day after the 2019 Indian Premier League was hit with its first controversy, the focus was back on the cricket. With the dust having (somewhat) settled on the Mankading drama, life returned to normal.

If you want more indicators of that, Chennai Super Kings won. Again. Nothing spells normalcy in the IPL quite like a CSK side with winning momentum. They bested Delhi Capitals by six wickets for their second successive win in the competition.

As for the Capitals, they began on a winning note under their new name, but couldn’t keep it up in their first home game of the season. Maybe it’s time to rechristen the Kotla and see if that works?

What’s hot

Shane Watson. For the last year or so, Watson has been laughing in the face of all those who say T20 is a young man’s game. Watson was CSK’s second-highest scorer in 2018, and struck an imperious hundred in the final to help them bring home a third title. He was also second on the run charts for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

Then, he laid into bowling attacks at the Pakistan Super League, where he was named Player of the Tournament for his 430 runs in 12 matches. And on Tuesday, March 26, he struck a savage 26-ball 44 to shut the doors on Delhi in a chase of 148. By the time he departed, Chennai needed 75 runs in 80 balls.

Watson hasn’t been around international cricket for three years now. At 37, he is batting like a video game character with all the cheat codes activated.

What’s not

Benching Sandeep Lamichhane. At a time when teams are mulling tinkering with their batting orders to accommodate a wrist-spinner, Delhi have puzzlingly left out the 18-year-old Nepal leg-spinner for both their games so far.

They punted on the experience of Amit Mishra, and not without good reason, because Mishra has been a match-winner in the past. But Lamichhane still possesses that mystery element. He is only three matches old in the IPL, has played 11 internationals, and is a new commodity to most international stars.

Delhi didn’t feel his absence much in the first game, where they were insured by a 200-plus total. But against CSK, in a defence of 147, Lamichhane’s variations and guile could have potentially pushed the chasing team harder. Making his non-selection more puzzling is also the fact that Delhi filled up only three of the four available overseas slots.

What they said

“We don’t plan. We don’t have team meetings. We just turn up and go with the flow on any given day.”

– Dwayne Bravo with more proof that MS Dhoni works in mysterious ways

What they didn’t say

“For the last year, I’ve been looking at the big fat Wahab Riaz poster hanging down my bedroom wall first thing every morning. I find that it gets me worked up and in the mood to just murder the ball when I arrive at the ground.”

– Watson on his late career resurgence

What’s next

R Ashwin returns to the field having been the hottest trending topic over the last 24 hours. The line at the non-striker’s end would presumably loom extra large at the Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen.

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