Captaincy distracted Watson from fitness issues
Shane Watson has said captaining Australia in his first match back from an extended injury lay-off helped him think less about his temperamental body. The 87-run defeat of India at the SCG was Watson's first match as captain of Australia, and he looked at home leading the hosts despite a remarkably thin resumé as a leader prior to this.
Watson was aware he might be leading the team on match-eve, as he awaited the latest update on Michael Clarke's tender back. In his first international game since November 2011, he found that when he was in the field, his thoughts, which usually revolve around his fitness and flexibility, were now shifted towards team imperatives. It helped his bowling, which was neatness itself; he claimed 2 for 9 from five overs.
"The last few weeks and months have been very frustrating," Watson said. "I've had a few false starts coming back, so to be able to play first of all and get through it is another day down and another day that my body adapts to doing what I want to do with it. Also to have the captaincy in my first game back took my mind off my body.
"I didn't have time to think about what was going on with my body; I was thinking about not only where I wanted to bowl but also where the fielders were and who was going to bowl at the other end, so it was actually a good distraction.
"My effort balls were getting into the late 130s [kph], which is my normal pace with my effort ball, so I felt the most comfortable I have over the last two-three weeks."
The last time Watson played India, Australia were knocked out of the World Cup by them, in Ahmedabad. The Sydney ODI was Watson's first encounter with the unhappy and ineffective unit that conquering team has deteriorated into over the course of the Australia tour. He said a lot had changed between the World Cup and now.
"It was nice that there was a bit of pace and bounce in the pitch, compared to Ahmedabad," Watson said. "But a lot has passed since then, especially during the Test series; you could see that watching it from afar. Things do change, times do change and playing at home as well is a big advantage,
"Definitely [confidence levels are] very different. To see the way a few of their guys got out tonight; throughout the period of time they were doing so well guys like Virat Kohli and [MS] Dhoni were scoring big runs pretty consistently, as well as Sachin [Tendulkar] and Virender Sehwag.
"So for a few of those big guns to miss out pretty consistently through this whole summer is something you don't really see with this Indian team because normally one or two of those guys are getting big scores in the majority of the games. I think that's really where they're lacking compared to when they are at their best."
Watson does not yet know whether Clarke will be fit in time for Australia's final group match, against Sri Lanka on Friday. But he does know that in the time he has been away Australia's fortunes have risen, and his priority now is to find a spot in Australia's Test side during the West Indies tour, wherever one might be found.
"To get out and play is the most exciting thing for me, wherever I fit in, whether it's opening or not. I'd love to be able to bat in the top order, there's no doubt about that, but in the end I just want to fit in because what I saw from afar [from the Australia team] was very impressive."
Edited by Dustin Silgardo
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here