Getting the team off to slow starts, Watson and du Plessis have more often than not struggled to get going even after that. Of the first two overs in the second qualifier at Vizag, CSK made just four runs. Of the seven lowest scores in the first two overs this season, Chennai appear five times and believe it or not, the four runs made was one of their better performances this year.
Extend this till the end of the powerplay overs and you see that Chennai have failed to up the scoring rate even at that point. They have 584 runs in the first six overs this season with a shoddy strike rate of 99.32, the worst among all teams and the only team to have less than 120.
The overseas opening duo has been guilty of providing CSK with little momentum at the start. They might have had contrasting individual seasons with du Plessis clearly outdoing Watson but the duo, for once, clicked in sync at Vizag to lead CSK's run chase. In the four overs after the initial two, Chennai made 38 runs with du Plessis finding form.
He raced across to make his third half-century of the season in 38 balls but fell soon after. du Plessis had made just 8 runs off the first 10 balls he faced but scored 42 in the remaining 29 balls. Watson followed a similar pattern. The Australian struggled to get going and made just 4 in 10 balls but raced to 50 in 31 balls. He was dismissed next ball but the scoring rate which was 40 in the first 10 balls, soared to 209.09 in the next 22 balls he faced.
This is just Watson's second half-century in the season and it lifts his average to 19.87 from the 14.63 it was before this game. Watson had the second worst average by any opener (min 10 innings) in the history of IPL walking into this game. Parthiv Patel in 2016 made runs at an average of 11.75 and Watson was only a tad better at 14.63.
Last year too, Watson had a decent tournament making 438 in 14 matches at 31.28 before a spectacular unbeaten 117 in the finals. After his 96 against Sunrisers earlier this season, Watson had made scores of 8, 0, 7 and 10. He needed a big knock today and found form ahead of the big finals against Mumbai Indians.
First Published: May 11, 2019, 12:37 AM IST