Veterans Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis rewarded Chennai Super Kings’ faith in sticking with their old guard after leading their team to a thumping 10-wicket Indian Premier League (IPL) win.
Watson, aged 39, struck form with an attacking 83 in an unbeaten 181-run opening stand with the 36-year-old Du Plessis, who plundered 87, as Chennai thrashed Kings XI Punjab on Sunday.
Led by 39-year-old Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the three-time Indian Premier League winners are labelled “Dad’s Army” by the media and they ended a run of three consecutive defeats by keeping to a philosophy of backing their ageing players.
While South Africa’s in-from du Plessis struck his third half-century of the season, it was Australian Watson’s return to form that enabled the team to bounce back.
“It is something (selection consistency) that we bank on and sometimes (Chennai coach Stephen) Fleming doesn’t get as much credit,” Dhoni said after the win.
“It’s not that we don’t have debates, but it’s one plan, that’s the relationship between us.”
Watson overcame put behind him scores of four, 33, 14 and one to help Chennai to a franchise record opening stand.
Fleming, the former New Zealand captain who has been with Chennai since the inaugural 2008 season of the cash-rich Twenty20 league, said it was important to retain confidence in players during the lean periods.
“You have to be very courageous when things don’t go their way and positive as well,” Fleming told reporters after the match.
“Attitude you can control and all we try do is provide some selection security with guys and then ask them to be as confident and positive as they feel.
“If Shane had been struggling in the nets and looking out of touch then it may have been a selection issue,” added Fleming. “But he has been nothing but solid.”
Du Plessis smashed 11 fours and a six in his 53-ball stay at the crease in Dubai and credited the team management for sticking with their players.
“Credit to Dhoni and Fleming, it’s obviously the CSK way,” said du Plessis. “They stick with players a bit longer than other teams might.”