India v Australia, World T20 2016, Group 2, Mohali March 26, 2016

Relaxed Watson hopes to make the most of 'last few games'


Shane Watson: "After I announced my retirement, over the last day it's been reminiscing a bit more. It's the first time I really sat back and really looked at my career and the different highlights." © Getty Images

Chandigarh is not an easy place to remember; it is nigh impossible to tell one sector of its grid-based layout from another. Shane Watson can. He has vivid memories of being here to play cricket in Mohali. He had scored a high-quality Test century here, but ended up losing that match, one of the greatest Tests played in India. More vividly, though, he remembers being sent back home midway during Australia's next tour of India. Now he and his team fight to make sure his international career doesn't end in Mohali. They want it to go to Mumbai, and then Kolkata.

"It's a good thing we're not staying in the JW Marriott because I've got a bad memory of one of those rooms in particular there so that's given me some nice memories coming back to Mohali," Watson said, looking back at the disastrous tour of India four years ago. "But yeah that wasn't really one of my high points, being suspended from a Test match for not doing my homework that I didn't realise I had to do."

In his press conference before the start of Australia's knockouts - they meet Indian in a virtual quarter-final - Watson sounded a lot more relaxed than what most of the players with their modern media training do. He joked about the homeworkgate, about the time they sledged Virat Kohli at MCG, but he himself dropped Kohli two balls later, about how perhaps Ajinkya Rahane can replace Kohli when asked third time if he felt his IPL team-mate Rahane merited a place in the Indian XI. It could perhaps be down to the relief that getting such a big announcement out of the way brings.

"No, not really [if anything had changed since the announcement]," Watson said. "Apart from just really making the most of these last few games that I've got. After I announced my retirement, over the last day it's been reminiscing a bit more. It's the first time I really sat back and really looked at my career and the different highlights.

"Even from a young age, the age of 20, I've got so many incredible memories. It really is the first time in my whole career that I've had the chance to just spend some time thinking about how incredibly lucky and fortunate I've been and the amazing things I've been fortunate enough to be able to experience throughout my career. That's more the last day I've been experiencing. Just making the most of playing these last few games, because I know how much of a privilege it's been to be able to play for my country, and I'm going to make the most of these last few games."

Shane Watson: "Look, in the end, I'm very happy to just be playing. I have been very fortunate to be able to play for my country for a number of years." © Getty Images

It could be the last few or the last. The familiar foes, India, will start as favourites despite three cagey performances: they have got the bowlers to exploit the slow pitch in Mohali, and they also have the recent upper hand through beating Australia 3-0 in the T20Is in Australia earlier this year. Watson, though, said the Australian T20 side has improved a lot since then.

"We've got a very different team to those games we played," Watson said. "We went through quite a few players throughout those three games. Now we've been a bit more settled as a unit. That's a great starting point for us compared to India, who have been just about the same team all the way through so they certainly know their roles very well within the batting unit and the bowling unit. For us to be able to click [against Pakistan] as a batting and bowling unit that's a great thing and the most important thing going into a knockout game so I've got no doubt India are going to be very wary of what we do."

Watson is aware of India's strength at home, though, and hoped that Australia would prevail in the mental contest that all knockout matches are. "In big games it really comes down to your mental approach more than anything else," he said. "Your skills don't change, and the biggest challenge mentally is to be able to try and hold your nerve when the pressure comes on, which is certainly going to happen in a knockout game.

"India has quite a lot of expectations, quite a few people who follow the game here compared to back home in Australia so there's a little bit more expectation on the Indian team compared to the Australian team, but both teams want to win. It's such a big tournament for everyone, for all of the international sides, especially a knockout game. It really just comes down to how you hold your nerve, and the good thing is, recently in the one-day World Cup we certainly did that at home. We also know that India did it very well at home in 2011 as well, and they've got quite a few of the same players so it's going to be a great game."

For Australia, Watson's flexibility has been a big asset. They had tried David Warner in the middle order, but it is Watson, with his experience of batting in the middle order in the IPL, who has given them what they might feel is the ideal batting order. Against Pakistan, after two games of Warner in the middle, Watson batted at No. 6, and scored 44 not out off 21 to provide their innings the impetus. Asked if that was the way to go for Australia, Watson said: "Our batting clicked, that's for sure. In the end I know with the experience that I've had batting in a lot of different spots throughout my career, I am the most versatile batsmen in our line-up, to be able to move up and down the order.

"So whatever was required for the selectors and the captain to feel that they wanted certain guys in certain positions, it certainly worked today there is no doubt about that. Look, in the end, I'm very happy to just be playing. I have been very fortunate to be able to play for my country for a number of years."

Three more nights, Watson might want.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pratik on March 27, 2016, 12:27 GMT

    I don't know I will say this "it's India bowling v/s Australia batting"

  • sanjay on March 27, 2016, 3:30 GMT

    I don't think it would be good to give a guard of honour as this might not be watsons last match

  • Phil on March 26, 2016, 14:06 GMT

    Watson stood up againar Arthur in India and walked away which put alot of pressure on Arthur and got us boof who has us number 1 in almost all Formats now. Tomorrow Watson will make a big contribution. Khawaja will also be dangerous and it should be a cracking game

  • mk on March 26, 2016, 12:21 GMT

    I thought Watson retired years ago. He plays like he had.

  • Richard on March 26, 2016, 11:46 GMT

    This pool is so weak. England almost lost against Afghanistan yet they would win this pool, having beaten Pakistan 3-0 as well as New Zealand, Australia and India in the last t20s that they played against them.

  • Rahul on March 26, 2016, 11:39 GMT

    @zeus_kris take your point on NCN and aussie owlers bowling more yokers. On Khawaja if you watched him this WC you would realise that yesterday was the first time he got out to a yorker and he has been australia's highest run scorer in all the games minus yesterday and is also australia's most in form batsman. He plays good cricketing shots but still has the best strike rate in the first 6 overs and thats unique in world cricket. t seems to be that T20 is evolving that you need a balanced batting line up as much as you need a balanced bowling unit. Smith is surrounded by hitters, someone needs to be a grafter who pushes for two and turns the strike over. Smith has to play the long game if required. Smith and khawaja will be the key batsman for Aus against india

  • rob on March 26, 2016, 11:16 GMT

    It's been a pleasure Shane. Thank you very much.

  • zeus on March 26, 2016, 10:30 GMT

    If AUS wants to win the match against India they need to do a few things right. First, Nathan Coulter Nile needs to get back to bowling yorkers like he used to do for Mumbai Indians a few seasons ago. It is important that NCN and Watson both bowl yorkers at the death to limit possible damage by Indian batsmen. Dhoni, Yuvraj and Pandya are no good at hitting yorkers for 6s or 4s. If NCN doesn't get back to bowling yorkers, it is better to replace him with Hastings as he will atleast take a few wickets even when he goes for runs. Second, Khawaja needs to curb his instincts and should focus on batting long. Other batsmen should play around Khawaja. In his last few games and in his last game against India, Khawaja has lost his wicket by not covering his stumps. Bumrah and Nehra are pretty good at bowling yorkers and full-length deliveries. So Khawaja needs to stay still to avoid getting bowled. Finch and Warner should be the ones attacking the bowling.

  • Michael on March 26, 2016, 9:37 GMT

    I hope India does the gentelmenly thing and send Watson off with a guard of honour after all he has done for the game. It's what Ausralia has done - and will do for all the greats of India.

  • Dennis on March 26, 2016, 9:37 GMT

    Many of you are still predicting this game when the outcome if the championships is already known. India will beat this OZ team much easier than they beat Bangladesh. If anyone could have stopped India, it was Bangladesh cause they had the bowlers to trouble this famed batting line up. What's more, they almost did before they had a mental blackout. Now India will be facing easier bowling attacks with the exception of WI on their way to glory. First, they have the weakest bowling attack next only to England to make merry.

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