Shane Watson © IANS
Shane Watson © IANS

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) kept their hopes alive in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016, edging ahead of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in a high-scoring thriller at Mohali. It could have been anyone’s game, especially with Murali Vijay scoring a fluent 89 off 57 balls to lead his team’s reply. Towards the end, once again a team in this IPL lost in the final overs despite being placed well to pull off a win. With 40 needed off 24 and 7 wickets in hand, KXIP should have won, but Shane Watson’s penultimate over — when KXIP needed 24 off 12 — sealed the game for his side. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2016 at Mohali

It will be no exaggeration to say Watson has been the best bowler for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in this IPL. Having lost two of their main bowlers before the tournament in Mitchell Starc and Samuel Badree, the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) bowling attack has looked hapless on more than one occasion. But on Monday night, Watson, with his impressive second last over, proved that there is some depth in this Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bowling attack and it is largely due to him.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had drafted in England’s specialist Chris Jordan, who has given away 95 runs in 2 games. Jordan developed reputation as a good T20 bowler in death overs, but his first two games in the Indian Premier League (IPL) tell a contrasting tale.

Jordan did bowl the last over that saw Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) winning by one run, but the over that actually titled the game in favour of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In the last 2 overs, Kings XI Punjab needed 24 and had enough wickets in hand to win the game. However, Watson’s penultimate over turned out to be the match-winning one for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), as he gave away only 7 runs and KXIP were left with a mountain to climb, needing 17 to win the game. ALSO READ: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore: AB de Villiers 64, Murali Vijay’s 89 and other highlights

However, it is not the case that Watson has been RCB’s go to man in every crunch situations. There have been times when he has ended up giving away far too many runs for his captain’s liking. But the variation that the veteran all-rounder has in his bowling — mixing up the low full tosses and slower ones outside off  — have been right up there in his bag of tricks to fox the batsmen.

Watson is not the go-to man for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their bowling, he provides the necessary fillers with tight overs and his knack of picking crucial wickets at important junctures makes him one of the best in the business. On Monday night, he dismissed Hashim Amla to provide Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) the first breakthrough, and in the tense finish, when KXIP were running away with the match, Watson accounted for Vijay.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) captain Virat Kohli has been smart in utilising Watson as a bowler. Knowing that Watson can stem the flow of runs and even chip in with wickets, Kohli has preserved his overs for tough phases in the game. While Watson continues to shine for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as a bowler, it remains a fact that he cannot fill in as a strike bowler that they need desperately.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)