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March 15, 2019

Watson hopes Quetta will get the elusive title this time


March 15, 2019

KARACHI: Former Australia all-rounder and World Cup winner Shane Watson hopes Quetta Gladiators will this time clinch the elusive HBL PSL title.

Watson smashed 71 with five boundaries and half a dozen sixes off just 43 balls to steer his team to an imposing 186 for six before he defended 21 in the last over to give his team a 10-run win over arch-rivals Peshawar Zalmi in the Qualifier on Wednesday.

“It is really exciting,” said Watson. “That was something you had wished before the start of the tournament, you always wanted to get through to the final and give yourself a chance of winning the title,” he added.

Quetta have been on the losing side in the final twice, losing to Islamabad United in 2016 and to Peshawar in 2017. Watson said the players were skillful and that made the final spot possible. “For me, it’s no surprise that we have been able to make it to the final because we have some match-winners in the team,” said Watson, who leads the run-chart with 423 runs in 11 matches.

Umar Akmal (277), Rilee Rossouw (256 in 11 matches) and Ahmed Shehzad (253 in seven matches) are the other top batsmen. Watson, who had not bowled since last year’s IPL in India, said the decision to bowl the last over worked for them.

“I think it was more Sarfraz’s decision than mine,” said Watson. “I had not bowled for a few months. I had strained my calf and that was the reason I was not bowling and instead was concentrating on batting.

“It worked. You don’t have such nights when things go your way. Sohail Tanvir and Dwayne Bravo bowled well and it came down to me. It worked out well, but I am not sure if I will bowl another over again,” said the all-rounder, who played his last international game in 2016.

Watson admitted he was a bit confused at the start. “I had not marked up my run-up and I had a minute to warm up. The ball was reversing and that was my strength when I used to bowl normally,”

said Watson, who was hit for a six by Kieron Pollard off the third ball before he bowled the West Indian next ball. Watson said it was incredible to play before a passionate Karachi crowd. “First of all, it’s incredibly special to be able to play in front of incredible atmosphere and fans.

“The people are warm and welcoming. To be able to play in this atmosphere — I would cherish the opportunity,” he added.Watson said his confidence in batting is helping him as he has scored four half centuries this season. “Boundary hitting is what I have done throughout my career. We are playing at some good pitches and things are going my way at the moment. When your confidence is high, things go your way,” he said.

Watson praised young fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain who took two wickets on Wednesday. “Hasnain is an incredibly skillful young man. The ability to bowl so fast and have the control that he has is unheard of. I have not seen someone his age bowl so fast,” said Watson of the 18-year-old Quetta pacer, who has been selected in the Pakistan team for the ODI series against Australia starting next week.

“The control over his length and swing is special. There is no doubt that the Aussie guys will have to work hard to work him out. He has got some good change of pace, so they have to be on their game.”

Watson backed teammate Umar, who has been recalled to Pakistan team after two years. “We have seen quite a bit of batting talent. Umar Akmal is one of the best, and some of the shots he has played are incredible. He is a match winner and I am happy that he is back in the (Pakistan) team.

“You don’t have so many match winners and when you have got a match winner like Umar Akmal, you have to play him.“He can run between the wickets as long as he wants; he is a great fielder and can stand in the heat and execute his skills, which are amazing,” he added.

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