Watson 96 fires Chennai top of IPL

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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Chennai, India (AFP) — Australia's Shane Watson smashed 96 off 53 balls to help Chennai Super Kings reclaim their top spot in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad yesterday.

Watson struck form after a string of low scores in this edition of the Twenty20 tournament, as defending champions Chennai chased down their target of 176 with one ball to spare.

The 37-year-old opener hit nine fours and six sixes to end Chennai's two-match losing run and keep their home record intact in four games so far at M A Chidambaram Stadium.

“I was due for runs, that's for sure,” Watson, who registered his first IPL half-century in his 11th match of the season, said after receiving the Man of the Match award.

“I can't thank (coach) Stephen Fleming and (skipper) MS Dhoni enough for their belief in me. Most of the teams I've played in, I would have been dropped by now, but they showed the trust in me.”

Watson built crucial partnerships after Chennai lost South African Faf du Plessis for one early in the innings.

He was finally caught behind by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow off paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 18th over, missing out on what would have been his fifth IPL century.

Earlier, Hyderabad rode on a 115-run second-wicket stand between David Warner, who made 57, and Manish Pandey, who scored an unbeaten 83, to post 175 for three.

But the side was unable to give their England import Bairstow a winning farewell in his last game of the season as he heads back to join the national team ahead of the World Cup.

Bairstow, who has amassed 445 runs in 10 matches and is behind Warner (574) in the batting chart, was caught behind off veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh for nought.

“Absolutely loved it,” Bairstow said of his debut IPL season after being picked by Hyderabad for US$311,982 in the December auctions.

“Not my day today but the experience has been unbelievable. The guys here at Sunrisers have been really good. Lots to learn from. I think the main thing is to have confidence in your own ability.”

Hyderabad was captained by Kumar in the absence of regular skipper Kane Williamson, who returned to New Zealand following the death of his grandmother but is expected back for the next game.

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