‘Mitch Johnson provides a big X-factor for us’, says Shane Watson

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“We’re very lucky to have Mitch in our team”

Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has announced that he believes the reason the baggy greens are currently holding on to a 2-1 lead in the ongoing seven-match ODI series against India is due to the fact that left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson “provides a big X-factor for us”.

“It’s important to get our match-ups right when we’re bowling against their batsmen,” Watson said. “I think we’ve matched up really well. Mitch Johnson provides a big X-factor for us. There’s a couple of guys who aren’t as comfortable against the short ball compared to some of their other players as well.

“I think the important thing for us has just been getting our match-ups right. Even batting wise when we’re facing certain bowlers that they’ve got. Also trying to take them on at certain stages of the game. I think we’ve done that really well so far.”

Watson also revealed that Australia commonly use Johnson as a weapon to dismiss India’s middle-order batsmen, which include Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja.

“It certainly has been (a tactic), there’s no doubt,” Watson said. “Even after seeing what happened in the Twenty20 game in Rajkot, especially Yuvi…we didn’t get our plans exactly right to him and he’s an extremely talented player.

“If we give him a chance to get away he certainly hits the ball very sweet. And also to Suresh Raina, he’s a high-quality, world-class player as well. We’re very lucky to have Mitch in our team bowling the pace and control that he’s got at this point in time.

“It’s a huge weapon for us because we know how important their middle order is to their success. We’ve seen it work so far throughout this series. Hopefully it can continue to work for a bit longer. (But) we need to get to that stage. In Jaipur we didn’t get a chance to be able to get to that middle order because they batted so well. Apart from that game it has worked really well.”

The Australian all-rounder also noted that he does not mind if tomorrow’s match in Cuttack is cancelled due to heavy rain since “a five-match series is normally a bit more enjoyable”.

“It doesn’t look good at the moment, that’s for sure,” Watson said. “We heard reports before we even arrived that there’d been a lot of rain and last night it certainly didn’t stop. I’d be very surprised if we got on tomorrow after seeing how wet the grounds were, even coming from the airport to this hotel. It’s not looking great.

“In the end, to get a five match series is normally a bit more enjoyable anyway. So the rains made it that way. It really makes the game in Nagpur extremely important to try and close out the series.”

When asked if he was pleased to get a few extra days off, Watson said: “I’m not going to say no. I’ve been playing just about non-stop for the last seven or eight months. It’s worked out that the rain has come along at certain times, even during the one-day series of England just to freshen me up and freshen a few other players who have been playing non-stop. We’ve made the most of it when we can.”

The 32-year-old was also excited at the prospect of Australia getting their retribution against India after the men in blue whitewashed them 4-0 in a Test series in March.

“Absolutely. To be able to win a series in India in any format of the game is a huge challenge and it will be a great achievement,” Watson said. “We’re just going to have to continue to play some really good cricket.

“We’ve been batting really well especially throughout these first three games. Everyone’s looking forward to hopefully putting a perfect game together.”

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