'I was half-capacity without my bowling' - Watson
Shane Watson's hundred, the first of IPL 2013, might have gone in vain as Chennai Super Kings chased down Rajasthan Royals' target of 186, but the Australian allrounder was relieved to be back among the runs and bowling once again.
"It's nice to finally score some runs. I felt that I have been hitting the ball really well," he told the IPL site after the game. "In T20 you need a little luck as well to get your innings going. Unfortunately we weren't able to finish well.
"I'm very excited to get back to bowling. It's certainly something that I've missed in the last three months. It will probably take me another two games to fully find my feet and bowl exactly how I want to."
Watson's bowling return is neatly timed, coming only two days before Australia's selectors are expected to announce their Test squad for the Ashes series in England this summer. Although he has recently relinquished the vice captaincy, he remains a strong contender to make the squad.
He bowled for the first time this year in Royals' previous game, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, following a series of injuries, the most recent of which was a calf issue. In the match against Super Kings, the final over of the game was his second.
Watson said he is almost close to full bowling fitness, but not quite there just yet. "I'm getting closer to being 100%. A couple of more training sessions and games, and my body will be absolutely ready to handle the rigours of bowling. It is holding up well generally but now it's just the matter of it getting used to bowling again.
"On the whole I feel as good as I ever have. I've put in a lot of hard work during this period and hopefully, will reap the rewards for the coming 10 months or so. I was half-capacity without my bowling. It feels great to be bowling once again."
Though they could not pull off the win, Royals did well to get to 185 in Chennai, he said: "I think 185 is a lot of runs on any ground. At the beginning of the match our mindset was probably 160-170 and we ended up with an above-par score. We batted really well as a unit."
Speaking about Watson's innings off 101 off 61 balls, Chennai spinner R Ashwin said the great start he gave Royals forced Super Kings to shuffle their bowling options, resulting in him coming on within the Powerplay: "This year I have bowled quite a few death overs as I have come into the attack pretty late. I have bowled a lot of 13th, 15th and 17th overs this season. We have a couple of overseas seamers and an Indian seamer, which gives the captain many options to exploit in the Powerplay," Ashwin said. "[Today though] Watson was going great guns and the captain probably wanted to shut down [Royals' scoring] and look to get a breakthrough. Shane Watson made sure that I had to come early into the attack."