Watson gives blood for the cause in IPL final
FOR so long Shane Watson had the most fragile body in Australian cricket but a bit of blood wasn't going to stop him from letting loose in the IPL final.
Playing for Chennai Super Kings, Watson almost proved the saviour in a nail-biting run chase, slamming 80 from 59 balls in a one-man show as his side tried to chase down the Mumbai Indians' 8/149.
Watson was one of just three Chennai players to reach double figures - the next best score was Faf du Plessis' 26 - and his eight fours and four sixes kept the Super Kings' hopes of another IPL title alive until they were cruelly dashed at the death.
A superb final over from Lasith Malinga restricted Chennai to 7/148 as Watson and Co. fell one run short of the target.
The Aussie all-rounder was the only thing standing between Chennai and a crushing defeat in the final and a photo highlighted by teammate Harbhajan Singh shows just how far the right-hander was willing to go to chase victory.
In the aftermath of the thrilling decider Singh posted a photo on his Instagram story showing Watson, on bended knee, flaying a ball through the off side.
The image shows a large patch of blood on his left upper thigh and Singh revealed how the opening batsman wasn't going to be stopped by the flesh wound.
"Can you guys see the blood on his knee," Singh wrote. "He got 6 stitches after the game … got injured while diving but continue (sic) to bat without telling anyone.
"That's our @srwatson33, almost pulled it (off) for us last night."
Having faced criticism at times during his international career for poor body language, there was no way Watson was going to let on about his bloodbath as he powered through the pain barrier to almost steal the IPL title from Mumbai's grasp.
His belligerent knock left Chennai needing nine runs off Malinga's last over but Watson attempted to retain the strike off the fourth delivery and was run out before Shardul Thakur was trapped LBW from Malinga's final delivery.
"Today was one game we should've done slightly better," Chennai captain MS Dhoni said. "It was quite a funny game, we were passing the trophy to each other.
"Both (teams) committed mistakes, and eventually the winning team was the one that committed one mistake less."
Watson, who was dropped three times during his knock, and Dwayne Bravo brought the target down to 42 required off the final four overs when they smashed 20 runs off Malinga's 16th over.
Jasprit Bumrah (2/14) then bowled two impressive overs and also had Bravo caught behind.
"We know finals can be close, so wanted to stay calm. Winning a fourth title for Mumbai makes me very happy," Bumrah said after receiving his man of the match award.
"Today I was surprisingly very calm … (and) backed my skills."
In between those two Bumrah overs, Watson kept Chennai in the hunt by lofting left arm spinner Krunal Pandya for three successive sixes in the 18th over before Malinga returned and quashed Chennai's hopes.
Quinton de Kock (29) had earlier provided a brisk start before Mumbai lost both de Kock and captain Rohit Sharma with the score on 45.
Seamer Deepak Chahar (3/26), who had Sharma caught behind, returned and claimed the wickets of Hardik Pandya (16) and Rahul Chahar (0) in the 19th over. But Kieron Pollard's unbeaten 41 from 25 balls ensured Mumbai had enough runs on the board to defend by clubbing three sixes and three fours in his unbeaten knock.
Watson was Chennai's second-leading runscorer for the tournament behind Dhoni, racking up 398 runs in 17 matches at an average of 23.41 with a strike rate of 127.56. But Australian audiences won't be seeing his trademark brutality this summer after he announced his retirement from the Big Bash League (BBL) earlier this year.