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Watson heroics kickstart BBL season

Cricket

Shane Watson has proved he’s back to his devastating best and he reckons the Sydney Thunder have rediscovered that winning feeling.

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After piloting the Thunder to a thrilling season-opening last-ball win over crosstown rivals the Sydney Sixers, Watson proclaimed his side is ready for a bumper Big Bash League season.

Watson was the hero, smashing 74 off 46, as the Thunder scraped home with a five-wicket victory over the Sixers at Spotless Stadium last night.

Not only was Watson elated after Arjun Nair and Aiden Blizzard held their nerve to smash 15 off Sean Abbott’s final over to record a memorable victory, he said it boded well for their finals prospects.

Since the tournament’s inception, the Thunder have either been rocks or diamonds – winning the tournament in 2015-16 and finishing last or second-last in the other five editions.

Watson said their ability to scrap out a win was proof they were contenders this year and why they should be hopeful of a second ever finals appearance.

“It’s massive. If you fall on the right side of a win like this, in a tournament like this, that’s when you’re able to have a very successful tournament,” Watson said.

“For us to start off like that, especially against the Sixers with the rivalry we have, it’s very pleasing.”

Watson came into the tournament in promising form after smashing two big centuries for Sydney club side Sutherland – including a 114 not out off 53 balls just over a week ago.

He seems to have carried that form into the BBL, finding the boundary 12 times, including six sixes, in the Sydney derby.

Watson was hobbled by a calf injury leading into last season’s BBL and went on to score just 104runs at an average of 17.33, but he looks to have rediscovered his swagger.

As wickets fell around him, Watson kept the Thunder’s innings plodding along and they were able to reach their target of 150 with the final ball.

“It was just the flow of the innings, the way it panned out, when I was able to get on strike and the balls that were served up to me, I suppose,” Watson said.

“Knowing there was a couple of quality bowlers to come back, Daniel Sams especially, I knew I was going to have to bide my time and line up some of their other guys.

“We just got it right.”

-AAP

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