As MS Dhoni went about his business on the third day of his Chennai Test, annihilating one Aussie bowler after another, Shane Watson found himself in a ‘should I, should I not’ dilemma. The prolific all-rounder, who has decided to give up his bowling duties for the time being, even flirted with the idea of bowling to the India skipper. But he looked at the bigger picture — that of protecting his body from breaking down.
“I certainly missed my bowling in Chennai, especially on the day when MS (Dhoni) started to take the game away from us. That’s the reason I love being an all-rounder, having that feeling that you can make an impact on the game, especially with the game slipping away,” Watson said.
“I missed that in Chennai. It reaffirmed in my mind that I am never ever going to give up my bowling. This (not bowling) is more a short-term (step) to get some continuity with my batting out there and also do strength and fitness work for next few months so that I can bowl later. And to give myself more chance to stay fitter for a longer period of time,” he added.
The 32-year-old said he would continue to show intent with the bat. Does he feel extra pressure because he is not contributing with the ball? “In my mind, I have the intent to take on the bowlers. That’s actually what I am trying to do and I just need to spend a bit more time in the middle,” Watson said.
A bit more time — that’s exactly what he needs. A No 4 batsman — he had opened the innings in place of an ill David Warner in the second dig — Watson batted for 53 minutes in each innings. The slot he is occupying is usually reserved for the best. Michael Clarke is, by far, the most prolific batsman in this Aussie side. The fact that he bats at No 5 speaks volumes of the faith he has in Watson’s abilities.
India outplayed Australia in Chennai, but it would be foolhardy to write them off just as yet. And Watson insisted the side would continue to play its aggressive brand of cricket. “That’s when we are best as a team. We need to find a way to make sure we do play that brand of cricket. If we don’t, then we can’t be successful,” he said.
So how would have he countered Dhoni had he snatched the ball from the captain? “The way Dhoni was hitting the ball was pretty amazing. I am certainly not saying I would have got him out, that’s for sure. It’s more like feeling of providing an impact. The way MS batted, I think it wouldn’t have made a difference where or how I bowled to him,” he put it rather modestly.
“We had our plans for bowling against Dhoni. When the ball doesn’t bounce as much as it does in Australia, MS’s technique is certainly equipped for wickets like Chennai and for wickets that are not bouncy. And he certainly showed why he is a world-class player. Hopefully, it will be someone in our team who can do that to the Indians in this game,” he added with a grin. Watson sure hopes he will be that man in Hyderabad.