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Watson back in international reckoning

Finally Shane Watson seems to be getting his timing right.

The allrounder has put himself in line for selection in the limited-overs segment of Australia's tour of the Caribbean with his latest man-of-the-match performance in the Indian Premier League.

Watson led the procession for the Rajasthan Royals by topscoring with 52 off 29 balls and then collecting 3-10 off three overs in his side's 105-run semi-final shellacking of Glenn McGrath's Delhi Daredevils.

He picked apart Delhi's top order by removing the top three batsmen in Mumbai, the scalps including the prolific pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

Watson's Rajasthan skipper Shane Warne expected his charge to be back in Australian colours soon.

"Throughout the series he has been superb," Warne said.

"He lost a bit of the edge in the last few games but today he was absolutely fantastic and showed his class.

"He's a fantastic all-round cricketer and good enough to be in the Australian team."

Watson is the IPL's fourth highest runmaker with 444 runs at 49.33 with a strike rate of 152.05 and second-highest wicket-taker with 16 scalps at 22.12 at a respectable economy rate of 7.05.

The Queenslander's form revival could not have been more timely with selectors looking for a replacement for Matthew Hayden, who is returning home because of an Achilles problem.

There would be some irony if Watson is recalled for an injured teammate as his body's failing has boosted the careers of Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds and others in the past.

But with Adam Gilchrist having retired, a new-look opening pair in the shorter forms of the game is on the cards.

The IPL's leading runscorer Shaun Marsh and James Hopes have been slated as potential openers, but Watson has shown form in the past at the top of the order.

He has scored 293 runs at 41.86 in eight outings as an opener and played that role during Australia's triumph at the 2006 Champions Trophy tournament.

Watson has played 65 one-day internationals during his injury-interrupted career and his experience at the top of the order would be attractive to selectors.

Add to that, he is in playing mode and his unreliable hamstrings have held up for 14 Twenty20 matches in the past month and a half.

Following the current three-Test series, Australia play the West Indies in a Twenty20 clash in Barbados on June 20 before commencing a five-match one-day tournament on June 24 in St Vincent.

source - theage.com.au
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