Important to get matchups right: Watson
Australia have came out ahead of India with a convincing display of their batting depth and judicious use of their bowling attack to take a 2-1 lead in the seven-ODI series. This lead will hold them in good stead after a washed out Game 4 in Ranchi and weather likely to play spoilsport in the fifth match at the Barabati Stadium.
With rain confining the players indoors, Shane Watson spoke to the media about his team’s strengths and tactics ahead of Game 5. Speaking about their approach to the series from here on, if the match scheduled for October 26 is washed out, he said, “It really makes the game in Nagpur extremely important to try and close out the series.”
“To be able to win a series in India in any format of the game is a huge challenge, and it will be a great achievement. We have been batting really well, especially throughout the first three games. Everyone is looking forward to hopefully putting a perfect game together,” he added.
Asked about the key to countering the MS Dhoni-led side, which is a formidable opposition, he said “It's important to get our matchups right when we are bowling against their batsmen. I think we've matched up really well. Mitchell Johnson provides a big ‘X’ factor for us. There are a couple of guys who aren't as comfortable against the short ball compared to some of their other players as well. I think the important thing for us has just been getting our matchups right. Even while batting when we are facing certain bowlers and also trying to take them on at certain stages of the game, I think we have done that really well so far.”
Elaborating on Johnson’s role, he said, “It certainly has been (a tactic), there is no doubt. We are very lucky to have Mitch in our team bowling the pace and control that he has got at this point in time. It's a huge weapon for us because we know how important their middle order is to their success. We have seen it work so far this series. Hopefully it can continue to work for a bit longer. But we need to get to that stage. In Jaipur we didn't get a chance to be able to get to that middle order because they batted so well. Apart from that game it has worked really well.”
Another important factor behind the Australians’ success has been the aggressive and deep batting. A couple of aggressive players at the top of the order and a destructive lower order have helped them set up matches. Explaining their roles, Watson said, “We are very lucky in this team. The balance that we have got is that we do bat deep. We have got Johnson coming in at nine, and Clint McKay at 10 has done a good job (with) a couple of little cameos. It really just provides us with a lot more freedom than what we have had.”
“It has worked really well, most games we have played, apart from one or two in the last six games, we have got 300,” Watson said.
“Normally if you are up around that total, you give yourself a great chance of winning the game. We are certainly playing with a lot of freedom and we are lucky because we have got that batting depth as well to know that we have got a bit of reserves if things don't go exactly right.”
While acknowledging Aaron Finch and Phillip Hughes’ valuable contributions, he said, “He (Finch) has been amazing since he's come in. This environment has really just got the best out of him so far. It's exciting to watch someone hit the ball as clean as he does. He's a very powerful batsman. It will be exciting to see him come off for the last couple of games as well because it certainly gives us a great start. And Phil Hughes has been a great foil for him as well; just really steadying the innings throughout to make sure he's batting through a lot of the time. Myself, and especially Aaron Finch, are there to go hard. It's provided another dimension to our opening combination, which is very exciting.”
Elaborating on his role in the line-up, he said, “At No.3 I have to adapt a little bit more, depending on the situation when I come in.”
“I know that with the experience I have had in all formats of the game, No.3 is a better fit for myself and also the team. To be able to come in and either try and reestablish a partnership, if I have to come in early or continue to follow on from the good work that's happened from the openers, I am comfortable with it and enjoying it”
A senior member of the squad and with vast experience of playing in India, Watson brings with him a lot of insight. “I have been trying to help out as much as I possibly can with the batters and the bowlers to give them an insight into the things that I have learnt after playing Indian teams so much.”
“Hopefully it's added some value in some way to be able to help the guys out in some way and give them the best opportunity to be able to perform like they have been.”
Watson also spoke about the work he has been doing for playing the ball that comes back in. He said, “I have been working hard on it. It still got me out the last game, but that's the way it goes. It was a good ball and things do happen like that in a game. I have continued to work really hard on that specific area. I feel like I am very close to getting it right.”