Shane Watson struck form with a blazing 83 in an unbeaten opening partnership of 181 with Faf du Plessis as Chennai Super Kings thrashed Kings XI Punjab by 10 wickets in the Indian Premier League on Sunday.
The 39-year-old Watson hit his first half-century of the season and combined with Du Plessis, who smashed 87, to lead Chennai past Punjab’s 178 for four in Dubai.
The partnership was Chennai’s best opening stand in the Twenty20 tournament as the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team bounced back after three losses in the United Arab Emirates.
“Watson was looking good in the nets. But what you want is to replicate that. It was just a matter of time that he gets going,” Dhoni said of the veteran Australian, who had scores of four, 33, 14 and one coming into the game.
“Faf is like a sheet anchor for us. He can always confuse the bowlers with shots like the lap shot. They compliment each other well.”
Three-time IPL winners Chennai are known to stick with their veteran players despite the team being labelled as the ‘Dads army’ by the media.
Watson, who smashed 11 fours and three sixes in his 53-ball knock, said Chennai’s policy to never panic.
“With so much experience and success the franchise’s had, they believe in the players,” he said. “Never any panic stations with CSK.”
In the first match of the day, New Zealand quick Trent Boult returned figures of 2-28 as he overcame hot UAE weather to help holders Mumbai Indians reach top of the IPL table.
Boult, a left-arm paceman, led a disciplined bowling attack with Australia’s James Pattinson, who also took two wickets, as Mumbai outplayed Sunrisers Hyderabad by 34 runs.
South Africa’s Quinton de Kock hit form with his 39-ball 67 to guide Mumbai to 208 for five, a total the bowlers defended by restricting Hyderabad to 174-7 at the short-boundary Sharjah cricket ground.
“We had watched a bit of cricket played on this wicket. Small ground too. Good effort by the boys. We had something to bowl to,” Boult said after being named man of the match.
Boult got the key wickets of England batsman Jonny Bairstow for 25 and his national captain Kane Williamson, caught behind for three, to choke David Warner’s Hyderabad.
“I don’t actually get Kane out too much in the nets. So nice to do so, but more important to get the wicket,” he said.
“Very foreign conditions for me, very hot, but you have to be clear in your head. Execute what you want to do, and not worry about the ball travelling out of the park.”