Colombo: Australian all-rounder Shane Watson bagged his third consecutive man-of-the-match award after impressing again in the comprehensive win over India on Friday.
Watson is in scintillating form with both bat and ball, proving himself to be one of the finest all-rounders in the game today. After his latest success, Watson spoke at length about his form, his team’s performances in the World Twenty20 and his hopes of winning the tournament.
You have bagged your third man-of-the-match award and played a leading role in Australia’s victories. What is the secret behind your form?
Things have fallen my way in the first couple of games. Cricket is a very fine line between having a really good game and having a not so good game. At the moment, a few things are going my way nicely and you have to make the most of it because there will be times when things aren’t exactly going your way. So, fingers crossed, things will keep going nicely for me and the team in the next few games because we have certainly got the quality of players to have a lot of success in this tournament. We have just got to be doing everything we can to be at our best.
You have been hitting huge sixes with ease. What is the factor behind your enormous strength? Do you do any particular training?
Strength training in the past has been a bit of a liability for me because, in the end, it meant that I got injured quite a bit. Being strong obviously is very important to be able to hold things together, especially being an all-rounder as well, but in the end I guess I am lucky that I have a very good bat. That certainly helps because, even if you mishit it, it still goes a long way. I am praying that it doesn’t break. I still have a couple more good ones and so I will make the most of what I can.
You thrashed the Indian spinners comfortably. Does that mean that India’s spinners, if attacked and under pressure, are not a threat?
I think chasing 140 was going to make it a little bit easier for us in a way. If you are chasing a bigger total than 140, you do have to take a lot more risks to the spinners and they are high quality, world-class spinners that we are playing against, especially [Ravichandran] Ashwin and Harbhajan [Singh], both of whom I have played a lot before. We knew that was going to be a really big challenge and it just worked out that we got a few boundaries away early. We were able to try and make the most of those first six overs. It also helps having Dave Warner, being the quality of player he is and also a left-hander as well.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has commented that his bowlers were not effective against you and Warner because rain had wet the ball and his bowlers found it hard to grip the ball. Did you feel so while batting?
[Smiles] What I do know was that there was a bit of rain towards the end of our bowling innings. In the last couple of overs we knew that the ball was going to get wet for us anyway, but in the end you have to make do with what conditions are given to you. India did go in with three frontline spinners and there was always a chance that there was going to be some rain around, as there has been in the tournament so far, especially here in Colombo. You have to make the most of the situations and the conditions you get.
Was the attack on the spinners pre-planned and how was it to get on top?
We knew that the Indians were going to hit us with quite a bit of spin. That is the competitive advantage they have over us, but you should also never take for granted Zaheer Khan. He is a very skilled new-ball bowler. We knew that there was a chance to score against their three spinners. I think I was lucky in a way that I have been able to play all their spinners through the IPL over the last few years. So I sort of know how they are going to bowl to me and how they are going to try to get me out. It was nice that it worked out well for me tonight. But those guys [spinners] in the past have got me out quite a few times. But from our side of things, we know that medium-pacers are our strength in a way. Pat Cummins bowled quite beautifully. Mitchell Starc, as he has done throughout the tournament, picked up very crucial wickets for us. That is our strength and we have to make the most of it.
It seems you have also used your familiarity with India’s batsmen to get them out, especially Yuvraj Singh with a short-pitched delivery?
I’ve seen quite a lot of Yuvraj throughout the IPL and playing against India for the last few years — and that’s the plan that every team attacks him with, to try and get the short balls in. But you can’t get too low either. If you get it only chest high, he can hit it a long, long way. That was certainly one plan we had, but more so to try and get a dot ball and then it worked out that it got a wicket as well. That’s definitely got to be a lot of the teams’ plans as it has been for the last few years. There is no doubt that he is a quality player and he is going to have his day.
So you must be confident that your team will be lifting the Twenty20 World Cup this time?
That’s the plan, there’s no doubt about that. That’s why we have come here, to be able to take that next step. We came up one short in the West Indies against England in the final. There is no doubt we know the quality of the teams that we are playing and every single game now will lead us up into the semi-finals. We have got to continue to play some very good cricket to get ourselves into the semi-finals. You just hope that a few have a very good day and we are able to combine as a team well in those two knockout games. That’s the plan, but we still have a long way to go.
That would also be a strong reply for slipping down the world rankings in this format of the game?
There’s no doubt about that, especially being ranked where we were at the start of the tournament. We were nine or 10 or something, very poorly ranked. The reason was our T20 cricket was very inconsistent. We played some very good games and we played some poor games as well. We know exactly what we have to do as individuals, but also within the team to fill our role and be at our best. We know that if we do that as a team, we are going to be very hard to beat on our day. We have started very well, but we have got to continue to play extremely well. We know how important Dave [Warner] and my roles are at the top of the order to be able to set a platform for the rest of the batting unit and so far it has worked. We hope we continue to do that for a few more games anyway.