'Instinctively knew' we'd have to score off Ashwin - Watson
Shane Watson, who slammed 70 off 34 balls on a pitch that aided the seam bowlers to help Rajasthan Royals beat Chennai Super Kings, said he had "instinctively known" that offspinner R Ashwin was the one to go after during the chase.
After the match had gone three-fourths of its way without a single six being hit, and Super Kings' pace bowlers had Royals in a tight corner needing 93 off 60 balls in a chase of 142, Ashwin came on only to be dispatched for 23 runs in one over by Watson and Stuart Binny. That over turned the match, and Royals eventually breezed home with 17 balls to spare.
"We knew instinctively that Ashwin was going to be someone we have to really try and score runs off," Watson told the IPL site after the match. "We had to get a big over through that period of time. We were struggling to find the boundary. It just worked out nicely that Ashwin came on and bowled a couple of balls that we were looking for. In the end I suppose it was about batting on instinct like myself and Stuey were doing, with the hope he bowls in the areas that were in our favour."
Batting earlier on was tough in the seamer-friendly conditions, Watson said, but when he went after the bowling everything just fell into place: "It took me a little while to get going. There was a little bit in the wicket early so initially I was a little bit hesitant to try and take any risk but in the end I knew I needed to as the run rate was getting up high. I knew we had to start to take a few risks and when I did, it started to come off nicely, so it was just one of those days you dream of when everything you try, every shot that you are hoping for, comes off."
Royals had crawled along in the first 10 overs of the chase, shackled by excellent pace bowling from Jason Holder, Mohit Sharma and Chris Morris. In that difficult period, they had promoted James Faulkner and Sanju Samson ahead of Watson, leaving the experts questioning their think-tank. The decision to play bowling allrounder Faulkner up the order, Watson said, was influenced by his being used to batting in such feisty conditions in Australia. "The thought was that there was going to be a bit of pace and bounce in the wicket and also maybe a little bit of seam with the new ball. Jimmy Faulkner certainly knows how to bat in those sort of conditions, batting where he does back in Australia. So we thought, that would have been a good option.
"It didn't work out but that's okay, we knew the reason why we were doing it and what it could have provide for the team. But on other days it has worked, like having Sanju up at No. 3 has paid off. So we just wanted to give it a try and hope that it comes off, but unfortunately it didn't."