Indian Premier League 2011 May 2, 2011

Tait recall can keep Rajasthan top - Watson


Shane Watson is counting on the return of Shaun Tait to keep Rajasthan at the top of the IPL points table after they surged to the summit with a trio of home wins on the dusty Jaipur surface.

Rajasthan were inconsistent early on but have gathered cohesion and momentum in equal measure, winning the home fixtures they needed to ahead of a closing swing that will take them to Chennai, Indore and Mumbai, in addition to two more Jaipur matches, before the final stages of the tournament. Tait plucked three King's XI Punjab wickets on his last start, a loss at Mohali, but was kept away from the bowling crease in Jaipur as Rajasthan captain Shane Warne plotted a spin-driven path.

Watson said he had missed Tait's contribution, not least as a way of raising the octane level of an attack in which Watson is the next fastest bowler, and wanted him back in the XI for the home stretch of matches.

"The team we've got at the moment, the balance we've got, especially in Jaipur the way the wicket is, the way it turns, I think is the perfect balance," Watson told ESPNcricinfo.

"There's no doubt having Tait, trying to find a spot for him especially on the faster, bouncier wickets in general is going to be I think very important, but because you've only got four overseas players it does make it very difficult to fit Tait in there.

"I'd love him to play because it takes a little bit of pressure off me, him bowling 155 kmh. When Shaun's played he's bowled very well; it's just trying to find the perfect balance for the side that's going to suit the conditions we're playing in."

There are no secrets about who determines this balance, for Warne has reasserted himself as the Peter Pan of world cricket after showing signs of deterioration in 2010. Watson reasoned that Warne, 41, was motivated to leave the game with a charismatic final bow rather than a paunchy whimper, whenever the finish line might be.

"I think he's very motivated," Watson said. "After last year the way things panned out for Rajasthan, I think he's very motivated to make sure that whenever he leaves the game that he leaves in a really good place. Warney's bowling unbelievably well and has since the start of the tournament. There's only really one person who's ever been consistently able to do it as a legspinner and he's bowling absolutely beautifully."

Rajasthan's up and down start - two wins followed by three losses and a wash-out in Bangalore - has made way for a consistent mid-period, which Watson put down to the development of a team atmosphere following the changes brought by last year's auction. "It's more so been about trying to find the perfect balance for our team I think and trying to find the right roles for the right people," he said. "I think really that's what it's come down to in a way.

"Over the last couple of games, guys have settled into their roles a lot more and know exactly what's expected of them and we've been able to do that pretty well over the last few games. So I think it's more just finding ourselves as a group and understanding exactly the ways we can contribute to a really good team performance."

Watson entered the tournament with the confidence derived from a pair of blistering innings in Bangladesh, but it has been his bowling that has been most important for Rajasthan on slow pitches - a skillful variety in sharp contrast to the ramrod straight, military-paced deliveries of his early international forays.

"It's been nice to be able to contribute in certain ways, I feel like my bowling's been actually the part I've been happy with," said Watson. "To be able to contribute as I have with the ball, not taking a lot of wickets but more trying to keep it as tight as you possible can and not go for big runs, and so far that's actually been a really pleasing part of this IPL for me."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    Now That is million dollar question.The pace at which he bowls one cannot even sniff forget abot ball watching.He just came to his best and broke record of fastest ball in India.i dont think he is any way near to his best so just imagine the Tsunami he can bring but again u cant even think abt removing rest four(spin legend,watson,rossy,botha).so i think they will stick with same squad that played against pune.

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    if they dropped botha then they gonna start losing

  • Andrew on May 2, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    The dilema of whom to move aside for Tait is actually a good rather than bad dilema. I'm really enjoying the team spirit the Royals are starting to show. Tait may or may not be a trump card on faster-paced wickets - his consistency is indeed an issue - but I think the Royals have the self-belief to win the whole box and dice whether or not he plays.

  • intelcore on May 2, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    Warne may well sit out and marshal his troops from the dug-out, taking every chance to be in the game, be it during the time-outs or as a substitute. He has an astute man in Botha to carry out the plans on the field. Tait has a specific role and that is to take wicket(s) every time or create conditions for it, either to prevent a launch in 1-5 overs and 16-20 overs or to de-stabilize the batting team's consolidation of middle overs. If there is an opportunity or conditions to utilize that role, he'll play. For Warne, it doesn't matter who sits out. Rosco/ Botha might sit out to make way for Oram. Botha/ Warne can make way for Tait. Chahar might play too. Watto hasn't paid his dues yet but he is your Bank FD.

  • Rishabh on May 2, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    well warne can take rest against Kochi to be played in Kochi. Next 3 matches are in Chennai and Jaipur both tracks which support spin. Go rajasthan go

  • Abhishek on May 2, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    watson is putting both his foot on axe to be chopped. who else tait can replace otherwise? the real challenge is they need good batting. One would rather take Oram in place of Watson now.

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2011, 6:20 GMT

    least performer at the moment is watson

  • Himanshu on May 2, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    Only way for Shaun to play is, if Warne drops himself on boucier pitches. He can very well do it. He makes the plans in advance, tells Botha and his team about those, and manouvers from outside the ropes like a football manager. He can even come inside the field, if need be, as a substitute feilder to marshal his troops.

    If Tait has to play, this is the only possiblity, otherwise leaving out Botha, Watson or Taylor would seriously hamper the batting which is already a bit fragile if top order fails. Other change that they can make for pace freindly pitches is to bring in Chahar. He is an unknown material, but a good one at that. Player like Stuart Binny can be dispesed with for him, as Chahar is a much better bowler, and Binny has hardly made any contributions with the bat so far.

  • Vikram on May 2, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    I would love to see the Royals win for they actually contribute to cricket in India by discovering new talent and moulding them... as opposed to a side like Mumbai Indians whose domestic talent is mostly Indian international players, or otherwise mostly ICL rockstars.

  • Madan on May 2, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    tait is certainly a weapon but is also a weapon which can badly misfire. On his day, he can destroy a batting order but given his high inconsistency and craze for pace, he can even be carted some days. He can probably batter the indian domestic players but not the classy players like kallis, sachin, hussey, gambhir.... good luck shaun!

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