Chennai Super Kings’ phenomenal IPL 2018 is proof of fitness mattering more than the age of a player, said MS Dhoni after his side beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final on Sunday.
Post the IPL auction, criticism came towards CSK’s think tank for picking up players past their prime. The average age of the side was 34, with players like Shane Watson, Harbhajan Singh and Faf du Pessis being injury prone. However, the franchise dismissed notions about the team being ‘too old’ with a successful IPL campaign ended in their third title.
“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 Dhoni after the crushing win over SRH.
“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.
Shane Watson, who has a history of back problems, was the star on the night at Wankhede Stadium. His innings of 117 blew away Kane Williamson’s side as the 179-run target was chased down in just 18.1 overs.
“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 Watson.
The 36-year-old completed with 555 runs at 154.99 for the tournament. Along with six wickets, Sunday’s century was Watson’s second for the season – the first coming against his former side Rajasthan Royals.
“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 for dear life, Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni have been looking after me really well and I am really glad to contribute like I did tonight,” he added.