Did Shane Watson’s quest for personal glory cost Royal Challengers Bangalore big on Sunday?
Consider the scenario:
- RCB chose to play this match on a slow, low pitch.
- They were lucky with the toss and opted to chase a target.
- The game plan was for the pacers to bowl back of the length after the initial new ball burst.
- Till Watson came along for the final fling, RCB had things very much under control. Pune were 132 for 7 in 18 overs and almost buried.
- All the Pune top batsmen were back in the pavilion and there was only the eighth wicket pair of Manoj Tiwary and Jaydev Unadkat at the crease
This is when the script went horribly wrong for Watson and RCB.
“We stuck to our plans till the 18th over,” said RCB coach Daniel Vettori. “Our pacers were bowling wicket-to-wicket and at back of the length and they kept a check on the scoring.
“For some reason we deviated from the plan in the 19th and 20th overs and that hurt us very badly. Those 29 runs in the last two overs made the difference.”
Watson who has not had a very good IPL thus far, either with bat or ball, probably decided that he’d go after these lesser known Indian batsmen and help himself to some easy wickets at the end of the innings.
What followed was an unmitigated disaster. He chose the wrong batsman to start with. He also gave him width and bowled in Tiwary’s hitting zone.
“Once he bowled that wide bouncer I knew the rules would not permit him another one in that over,” said Tiwary, the former India batsman who has an ODI hundred against the West Indies to his credit.
“I was ready to get onto the front foot and thankfully he bowled in my zone. I just grabbed the opportunity,” said the right hand batsman who went unsold last year and suffered three poor IPL seasons preceding that.
Tiwary, who was bought by RPS for Rs 50 lakh for the 2017 season, hammered Watson for 4, 0, wide, 4, 0, 4, 6 in that momentous over that completely upset RCB’s plans.
To make matters worse Adam Milne in the next over bowled a juicy low full toss on middle and leg and was easily flicked away for a six over square leg. That final overs cost 10 runs. Those 29 runs in the final two overs doomed RCB.
Tiwary’s 27 from 11 balls (3x4, 2x6) lifted RPS as RCB surrendered the momentum on a pitch where batting was anything but easy.
Certainly it could not have been a brain fade that seized Watson who was bought by RCB last season for Rs 9.5 crore. He had set the IPL on fire from the first season and over the 10-year period would have become a millionaire 10 times over.
Thus, to claim that he had bowled that crucial over like a millionaire would be stating the obvious. It was just that RCB after three losses from four matches could not afford the luxury.
Watson must have recalled India’s tour of Australia in 2008 when Brett Lee exposed Tiwary’s limitations on fast pitches and against genuine fast bowlers. The pity was that Watson was neither genuinely quick nor was the pitch conducive to pace bowling.
Instead, in his attempt to beat Tiwary with pace and rattle his stumps, Watson erred in pitching the ball on a length and was carted with glee.
Earlier left arm medium pacer Sreenath Arvind, Milne and Watson himself had shown how moderate the scoring rate could be by pitching the ball back of the length. All the Pune batsmen, including big hitters, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Steve Smith , Ben Stokes and Dan Christian struggled to score at a brisk pace. Dhoni and Smith made the odd big hit. But rest of the time they had to make do with aggressive running between the wickets for runs.
Then came that momentous over which further exposed Watson’s diminishing skill as a T20 cricketer. Once a top-notch prized catch for the franchisees Watson, now in the evening of an excellent T20 career is increasingly being viewed as a has-been. In a season of mishaps this certainly has kept RCB’s cup of woes overflowing.
Updated Date: Apr 17, 2017 10:22 AM