Shane Watson helps Chennai Super Kings open playoffs door

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Shane Watson after his dismissal against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai. (AFP Photo)

CHENNAI, April 24: Prior to Tuesday, Shane Watson had cut a sorry figure in Chennai Super Kings (CSK) colours this season. He had managed just 147 runs from 10 innings at an average of 14.70 and was one of the reasons for CSK’s floundering fortunes at the top of the order.
Yet, CSK stuck with the burly Aussie and he showed on Tuesday that the team management had got it spot on.
Watson tore into the Sunrisers Hyderabad attack at the MA Chidambaram Stadium with an innings of 96 from 53 balls that shepherded the run chase of 176. Once he was dismissed, the situation did become tight with just seven runs coming off the 18th and 19th overs, leaving CSK with nine runs to get off the last over. But Kedar
Jadhav came up with a timely six off Sandeep Sharma as CSK huffed and puffed to victory. The victory, nonetheless, was CSK’s eighth of the season and virtually assures them of a playoffs berth.
The night belonged to Watson, who played an innings similar to his century against the same opposition in the final last year. Watson started his innings with a maiden over against Bhuvneshwar Kumar and perhaps piled the pressure on opening partner Faf du Plessis, who was run out for 1 after a direct hit from Deepak Hooda at mid-off.
Earlier, Manish Pandey made a rousing return to the Sunrisers playing XI having been dropped for the last three games as he smashed an unbeaten 83 from 47 balls.
David Warner, too, played his part with a knock of 57. Perhaps, SRH should have got a score well in excess of 180 given the platform they had, but the hosts limited the damage towards the end courtesy Dwayne Bravo and Deepak Chahar as they conceded just 24 runs from the last three overs.
With Kane Williamson unavailable for the game due to his grandmother’s demise, an opportunity for Pandey at No. 3 after Jonny Bairstow’s dismissal for 0 in his final game of the season. Pandey had a point to prove after finding himself out of reckoning in recent times due to patchy form. He was anything but patchy on Tuesday though. Alongside Warner, Pandey exerted his dominance as SRH raced to 54 for 1 at the end of the Powerplay.
Even when the fielding restrictions were eased, Warner and Pandey didn’t shy away from going after the likes of Ravindra Jadeja (0-33) and Imran Tahir (0-38).
While Pandey took just 25 balls to reach his half-century, Warner joined him to the landmark in 39 balls.
They also brought up their 100-run partnership from just 59 balls in the 12th over, but the CSK seamers limited the damage towards the end. (TNN)