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06 June 2023

Kohli backs Watson bid to open at World T20 after unbeaten 124

Virat Kohli of India does a honour lap with the team holding the T20 trophy after winning the third Twenty20 international cricket match between India and Australia in Sydney on January 31, 2016. (AFP)


Australia's stand-in skipper Shane Watson has declared his preference for opening the batting with a blistering 124 not out against India, just weeks out from the ICC World Twenty20.

But Watson's huge total, which came off 71 balls at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday, was not enough to prevent India from winning the match to sweep the three-game T20 series.

"I am happy to bat anywhere because I really am loving being out there and playing the game," the 34-year-old all-rounder said after the loss.

"But there's no doubt that I certainly do enjoy opening the batting. It has always suited my game, suited my mentality as well."

India's Virat Kohli also praised Watson, who retired from Test cricket last year but was recently overlooked for the Australian one-day squad.

"He batted out of his skin," Kohli said.

"He's such a dangerous player when opening the batting in T20 cricket. We've seen that in the IPL many a time."

Watson said India - who succeeded in running down Australia's total of 197 after smashing 17 off the last over with a four off the final ball - were the clear favourites going into the world Twenty20.

"I think no matter how things panned out exactly here, they were always going to be favourites," he said.

But the Australian said there was not "a hell of a lot to worry about" within his team, although he admitted the workload of players was intense over the southern hemisphere summer.

Australia's busy schedule saw the Twenty20 series against India finish Sunday, just three days before a one-day series starts in New Zealand on Wednesday.

Watson said because the series were so close, it had meant that players have "come in and out a lot more regularly than what would normally have happened".

But he said he was confident that they would have solidified their roles well ahead of the world Twenty20 which starts on March 8 in India.

"The important thing is to get the team nutted out," said Watson.