Shane Watson fired Rajasthan Royals to an imposing total of 199 for 6 with a dominating 59-ball innings of 104 not out, his first century in the tournament © IANS
Shane Watson fired Rajasthan Royals to an imposing total of 199 for 6 with a dominating 59-ball innings of 104 not out, his first century in the tournament © IANS

Mumbai: After masterminding Rajasthan Royals‘ (RR) nine-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) with an all-round show to take them into the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 playoffs, Shane Watson has said that he had worked hard ahead of the crunch encounter. Rajasthan Royals beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 9 runs, qualify for IPL 2015 playoffs

“I performed very well. Batting-wise I am relieved. I have not scored as many runs as I wanted to, got decent sort of starts before fading away. One thing is (the advantage) of 3-4 days (break) to prepare for this crucial game. I just spent a couple of training sessions to try and get my batting to where I can strike the ball more cleanly. I had spent the last couple of days bowling yorkers too,” said Watson at the post-match press conference at the Brabourne Stadium. Kallis defends inclusion of Mahmood for crucial tie vs RR

Watson fired Rajasthan to an imposing total of 199 for 6 with a dominating 59-ball innings of 104 not out, his first century in the tournament and the fourth by all batsmen, spiced with five sixes and nine fours. He then turned in a fine bowling display as well to take 2 for 38 as KKR stumbled and ended at 190 for 9 to lose the make-or-break game. Shane Watson’s century propels RR to 199/6 against KKR in IPL 2015 Match 54

“I have been working really hard on my bowling and trying to be effective in T20 cricket. Obviously, the injury at the start of IPL meant I could not do much skill work to execute my yorkers and change of pace as well. The last couple of days were the first time that I spent time concentrate on getting the few balls right. Under pressure I executed my yorkers pretty well,” said the Australian all-rounder. Gautam Gambhir: KKR messed up the game against RR

“Batting through 20 overs was more physically than mentally taxing. My body certainly is more used to the high temperatures (now) than during the first couple games that I played,” Watson added.

Watson did not forget to mention the contributions of others like his opening partner Ajinkya Rahane, who batted beautifully before being run out for 37, the brilliant spells of fast bowling by Chris Morris initially and the two wickets he took in an over at the death and some excellent catching.

“The wicket was that good, we had to get upwards of 200 especially after the start — the best we had in the tournament — that Ajinkya and myself had. Unfortunately the mix-up between Ajinkya and myself stopped our momentum a bit but we were lucky with the depth and hitting power and skills we have. It was an incredible wicket, beautiful wicket and the outfield was very fast. There were a couple of small pockets as well. We needed to get around at least 200 to defend. Kulkarni’s two catches were crucial.”

“There were a couple of very important moments as well. Chris Morris’ over to get [Andre] Russell out, Ajinkya Rahane’s catch to get rid off Azhar Mehmood as well. Mehmood is still very skillful and we were very lucky to get him out in the end,” said Watson.

Russell, who was the best contributor for Kolkata Knight Riders by taking 3 for 32 and then scoring 37 in 20 balls, was caught by Kulkarni in the deep off Morris in the 14th over which broke the threatening partnership between the West Indian and Yusuf Pathan (44 in 35 balls).

Kulkarni later caught Pathan off Watson’s bowling in the 16th over that effectively ended the KKR charge to the finish line.

Rajasthan had a fine start of five wins on the trot before hitting a trough and now that they are in the play-offs it has given them a chance to make the May 24 final, said Watson.

“We were a bit up and down after first five games. We certainly lost a lot of momentum, lost a couple of games and there were a couple of washouts and it was a battle to get back to winning ways. It was a knock out game and the win gives us a chance to make the final. We can just go out and play with a lot of freedom,” the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015-winning Australian team member said.