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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Watson to return amidst selection conundrum

Watson to return amidst selection conundrum

March 05, 2016 16:35 IST

Watson has made hundreds. He's taken wickets. He's just a brilliant player. So it's always good to have someone like that: Finch

We're probably going to give everybody two games out of three matches in SA: Waugh

shane watson

IMAGE: Australian all-rounder Shane Watson. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

National selector Mark Waugh has confirmed Shane Watson will play the final two T20 internationals against South Africa after missing the game one defeat in Durban.

Watson scored an unbeaten 124 against India in his last T20 appearance for Australia, but suffered an abdominal injury while playing for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League three weeks ago.

But Waugh says Watson will return in the second match in Johannesburg on Sunday, and also forecast ongoing changes as Australia seek to determine their best XI ahead of the looming World T20 in India.

"He (Watson) would have played on Friday except he had a stomach strain so we just wanted to make sure that he was fully fit. He'll play in the last two games," Waugh said on commentary at Kingsmead.

"We're probably going to give everybody two games out of three matches so we can have a look at them and give them some game time in the middle.

"We've played very little T20 cricket so everyone will get a game.

"Watson's bowling has been very good the last three or four months.

"In the Big Bash he bowled well and then for Australia in the T20s against India – he was actually our best bowler.

"He presents the seam beautifully and he's a bit deceptive when he hits the deck hard.

"With every player set to sit one match on the sidelines, Watson could come in for the in-form Aaron Finch, who blasted 40 off 18 balls in his return to cricket from five weeks out with a hamstring issue.

"Shane obviously brings a lot of experience and a lot of power," Finch said after play in Durban. "Batting, bowling, fielding – he's almost the ultimate T20 cricketer.

"He's made hundreds. He's taken wickets. He's just a brilliant player. So it's always good to have someone like that at your disposal, coming back from injury.

"What that means to the make-up of the side, we'll just have to wait and see. I think guys probably will get shuffled around a little bit, but that's fine.

"Everyone's open to that and whatever the best make-up of the XI is going forward to win a game, I think that's all we can hope for."

Finch is one of four specialist openers vying for a spot in Australia's first-choice XI for the first World T20 match against New Zealand on March 18, but the former captain said he feels no extra pressure in the fight for a starting berth.

"If you start thinking about that (selection) you go away from your natural game and you go away from what's made me successful in the past," Finch said.

"My job as an opener is to go out there and try to get us off to a flyer and try and set up a game and push through and get a bigger score than 40.

"I love playing cricket for Australia at any opportunity. If you're under pressure it just adds to a bit of fun."

Australia fielded a new-look top order at Kingsmead, with the biggest surprise David Warner listed at the new position of No.4.

Warner was then bumped up the order one spot to replace Usman Khawaja following the opener's dismissal to keep a left-hand/right-hand combination out in the middle.

"Davey (Warner) has batted there in the middle order quite a bit in India in the IPL, it's not something he's uncomfortable with and he's not all that foreign to it. He played beautifully today," Finch said.

"In Twenty20 cricket I think that (left/right-hand partnership) can be so crucial through those middle parts.

"When you've got (South Africa leg-spinner Imran) Tahir who can spin it both ways it probably doesn’t have that much of an affect.

"At the same time it's nice to have that option, always making the bowler change (from) left-hand to right-hand."