Former Australia star Shane Watson is regarded as one of the best all-rounders to ever play the game and in a career spanning, 207 international games, Watson took 291 wickets and he also scored 10,950 runs. The 41-year-old is currently in India to play the Legends League Cricket, and on the sidelines of the ongoing event, Watson spoke to NDTV about whether India’s chances at the T20 World Cup will be hampered if Jasprit Bumrah is ruled out due to injury and the form of Virat Kohli.
Team India’s preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup received a major jolt as Bumrah was ruled out of the ongoing three-match T20I series against South Africa. It is not clear whether Bumrah would be available for the T20 World Cup, which is slated to begin on October 16.
“If Jasprit Bumrah is not fit and not playing at this World Cup, then it would make it all the more difficult for Team India to win because Bumrah is as good as an attacking bowler and as defensive bowler as anyone in the world, let alone for India. He has got an incredible skill, it will be a huge loss,” said Watson.
“There is no like-for-like replacement for Bumrah in the world, leave alone India. It is going to be very hard to find those defensive bowlers in trying to close the game when they are bowling last or close out an innings as well. That is going to be the real challenge. Some of the fast bowlers will be needed to step up and raise their hand, if India wants to get into the back end of the tournament,” he added.
Virat Kohli, who now has 71 international centuries, went through a lean run, in terms of registering the three-figure mark. Before breaking the dry spell during the Asia Cup, Kohli had last scored a ton in November 2019 against Bangladesh in a day-night Test. Before the Asia Cup, Kohli had taken a break for the series against West Indies and Zimbabwe.
“There is no question that Virat needed some time off to re-energise his battery. I could see from even far, during the last IPL, you could see his energy was low. He was trying to get his best to get out and get into battle, but he needed to re-energise his batteries. You can see with the way he batted during the Asia Cup and his T20I series against Australia, he is back at his best. There is no question about that, the shots he is playing. He is at the peak of his powers, it is great to see him at his best,” said Watson.
While talking about whether Australia would be the favourites for the T20 World Cup, Watson said: “For me, Australia are the favourites. They are the defending champions, Australia are playing at home and they know the conditions better than anyone else. Bigger grounds, the faster and bouncier wickets. They are the standout for me, there squad is not going to change much at all. Their team is not going to change much from the team that won the last World Cup.”
“I just think if the Australian players are at their best, they would be incredibly hard to beat because there is no weak link in their team. My concern heading into the previous World Cup was Australia’s batting at the end but Matthew Wade alone has batted so well. He is as good as you get in terms of finishing the games, so I will be really surprised if Australia do not do well at this tournament,” he added.
Lastly speaking about the Legends League Cricket, Watson said: “It is great to be a part of the Legends League. I did not know what to expect at all, it is intense cricket and the guys are going really hard at it. These guys are incredibly skilled cricketers, they still have that incredible skill like we saw with Chris Gayle. It is a treat to be able to watch. Just to be able to see that, to bring back so many memories. It is really cool. The intensity of Legends League, the guys are going hard.”
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