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Fitness matters more than age, says Dhoni after IPL triumph

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Mumbai, May 28 : By orchestrating team’s title triumph, Chennai Super Kings’ seasoned players in 30s have confuted the critics, who harp on packing the side with youngsters, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not stop himself from gushing about it.

After the auction, Super Kings were criticised for picking nine players in their 30s including Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu but they proved to be instrumental in the team’s triumph after coming back from a two-year ban.

Rayudu (602) and Watson (555) were among top-five run-getters this IPL.

“We talked a lot about age but what matters is the fitness. Rayudu for example is 32, he’s someone who is fit, covers a lot of ground. Even if he plays a few games where he spends a lot of time in the ground and in the field, he never complains. So it is the fitness that really matters more than the age aspect,” said the 36-year-old Dhoni after the crushing win over Sunrisers Hyderabad.

“What captains want is players who move well in the field. It doesn’t matter which year a player is born in, whether you are 19 or 20 – you have to be agile. You have to accept your shortcomings.

“For example if I push Watson to stop a single, there is a very good chance that he’ll burst his hamstring and won’t be available for the next game. So what you tell yourselves is that they have to commit and try, but there’s no point getting injured for a single,” said Dhoni.

Watson’s sensational unbeaten 117-run knock ensured CSK chased down a challenging 179 with ease. It was a memorable tournament for the 36-year-old Australian, who ended with 555 runs with two centuries and as many half centuries.

“It’s been a special season to be honest. To get a special season especially after the last season with RCB. It means a lot to be with a franchise like CSK. After those first ten balls I was only hoping to catch up to at least a run-a-ball,” said the Australian.

Watson battled pain and injury to take the team home.

“The good thing is that I wouldn’t be playing for the next three-four months; feels great. It gives me plenty of time to recover. Throughout the back end of the tournament I was hanging on. Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni have been looking after me really well and I am really glad to contribute like I did tonight (Sunday),” said.

SRH captain Kane Williamson also had a rich run with the bat, amassing 735 runs to end as the season’s highest run-getter.

Willamson had replaced the suspended David Warner as captain just ahead of the IPL.

The New Zealander was disappointed that the team could not win the all- important final after posting 178 for six.

“We thought it’ll be a competitive total, but the pitch did hold a bit. We saw that in our first five-six overs, and for the large part of the game we were doing okay. But hats off to Shane Watson. You do have to congratulate CSK,” he said.

“It’s (loss) frustrating, because we played some really good cricket for the large part. Wasn’t to be, and they certainly showed their experience. The boys are hurting at the moment, but we’ve fought hard. A shame not to come across the line, but a lot of positives,” he concluded.

Mumbai ‘lucky’ venue for CSK this IPL

Mumbai, May 28 : The iconic Wankhede Stadium has been a ‘lucky’ venue for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings, who lifted the IPL trophy for the third time after beating Sunrisers Hyderabad in the summit clash here.

CSK played thrice at this venue and emerged victorious in all the three matches.

Unlike the past two occasions when CSK pulled off victory from the jaws of defeat, Australian Shane Watson made the challenging 179 run chase look like a walk in the park with his match-winning 117 not out.

The Chennai side, who were returning to the IPL after serving a two-year ban, began their campaign with a win over defending champions Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede in a thriller where Dwayne Bravo starred with the bat to take his side home.

The side then came to Mumbai for the crucial Qualifier 1 against the Sunrises Hyderabad on May 22 and they emerged victorious as South Africa skipper Faf Du Plessis shone with the ball in a low scoring thriller in company with local boy Shardul Thakur.

That win secured them a berth in the summit clash which CSK cantered to a eight-wicket victory at the Wankhede here last night.

Watson still good enough to play for Australia: Stoinis

Sydney : A day after veteran Aussie Shane Watson single-handedly helped the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to a third Indian Premier League (IPL) crown, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis feels the retired Watson could still be a force in international cricket in case he wants to come out of retirement.

Watson, who turns 37 next month, retired from international cricket in 2016 but on Sunday defied age to overcome a sluggish start and a hamstring problem and hammer an unbeaten 117 from just 57 balls in the IPL final, his second century of the tournament spurring CSK to the title.

Stoinis believes Watson was under appreciated by the Australian public during his 14-year international career and went on to say that the all-rounder could still dominate in the shortest format.

“He’s still good enough to play for Australia, for sure,” Stoinis told RSN, as reported by cricket.com.au.

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