Shane Watson, who has opened alongside Murali Vijay in IPL, hinted that the Indian batsman might come into the playing XI to replace Suresh Raina in the middle order. While he admitted that Raina’s absence is a huge loss, the Aussie stated that Vijay’s experience might help fill the void.
Since making his debut in 2009 edition of IPL, Murali Vijay has set many records as an opener with the Chennai Super Kings. While he moved away to Delhi Daredevils and then Kings XI Punjab, after 2014, the right-hander, two years ago, returned to CSK’s set up in a bid to regain his place. However, owing to the partnership between Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson at the top of the order, the Tamil Nadu batsman did not get a proper look-in in the last two editions of the tournament.
That didn’t stop the Australian all-rounder Watson from crediting the Indian opener, admitting that the right-hander might get a lot of opportunities this season, in Raina’s absence. Vijay has played three games for the franchise since his return, with succeeding only against Mumbai Indians before a dubious decision sent him back to the dressing room. However, his record in the IPL is quite outstanding, with 2587 runs at an average of 26.39 and a strike rate of 122.83.
“No doubt he [Raina] is a big loss but we have got someone like Murali Vijay, who is a gun player. In T20 cricket, he has not got a lot of opportunities in the last few years. But he is a seriously good batsman. He was sitting on the sidelines last year, he might get more opportunities this year,” said Watson on a YouTube show hosted by Nabeel Hashmi.
Watson stated that the franchise has to deal with the absence of both Raina and seasoned off-spinner Harbhajan Singh but sternly reckoned that the club has the depth to cope with the duo's absence.
“We have to (deal with the absence of Raina, Harbhajan). The great thing with CSK, as with all IPL squads, is that they have a lot of depth. It’s going to be incredibly hard to replace Suresh Raina. You can’t. He scored the second-most runs in the IPL, played the most games in IPL history. He has got records left, right and centre,” he concluded.
CSK will kick proceedings off in IPL 2020 against Mumbai Indians on September 19 in Dubai, in what will be the first match of the season.