IPL 2020: Watson has awoken from winter slumber, says Fleming
Watson's last competitive game was in March.
With a week to go for this season's Indian Premier League (IPL), the eight franchises have ramped up their preparations ahead of their campaigns. After starting slowly to shake off the rustiness, with the focus mainly being on fitness and net sessions, the teams have been engaged in intra-team practice matches.
Teams are also simulating scenarios which they would encounter over the course of the tournament, which begins on Saturday and runs until November 10.
And the Chennai Super Kings, who are eyeing a fourth IPL crown and go level with the Mumbai Indians, have upped the intensity and are focussing on "scenario cricket."
And coach Stephen Fleming, who has been with the franchise since the inaugural season of the IPL was pleased with the way things have panned out so far and reserved special praise for Australian all-rounder Shane Watson.
Watson, whose last competitive game was in March during the Pakistan Super League (PSL), has knuckled down and got going without a hitch despite the hiatus. It was almost as if it was just yesterday that he held a bat. Watson's last innings before the break was a 66 he scored for the Quetta Gladiators against the Karachi Kings in Karachi.
"Watson looks in very good form," said Fleming as the Queenslander flayed it to all parts of the park at The Sevens Stadium.
The former New Zealand captain, who also played for the Chennai Super Kings in the inaugural season, said that Watson has come back refreshed and is raring to go from the winter break.
"He's wintered well in Sydney and has come out playing beautifully, to be honest. So. he's been in a winter slumber and he's awoken pretty well," the 47-year-old said.
Watson is 13th on the all-time list of run-getters in the IPL with 3,575 runs from 134 matches with four hundreds and 19 half-centuries. His highest score in the IPL is 117 not out.
Prior to joining the Chennai Super Kings, Watson, now 39, played for the Rajasthan Royals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He won the inaugural IPL title with the Royals in 2008.
Meanwhile, Fleming, who has overseen all three titles that the Chennai Super Kings have won in 2010, 2011 and 2018, said that the squad are grateful for the chance to play this season despite the Covid-19 pandemic and added that there was a lot of excitement in the group.
"For some of them, it has been a long time. And it is good, there is excitement in the group just being back playing and I think feeling grateful for the opportunity to play. It is obviously due to what's going on around the world. But it is nice when you get together and players aren't exhausted from campaigns. So, fully fit and ready to go," said Fleming, who played 111 Tests, 280 ODIs and five T20Is for New Zealand.
"Playing a little bit of scenario cricket. Six overs here and there, get used to the heat, get used to guys being on their feet, just get back into loving the game," he said about the simulation matches.
The Chennai Super Kings, runners-up in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2015 and last season, take on defending champions the Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
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