Fitness matters more than age, says MS Dhoni after IPL triumph

By orchestrating the team's title triumph on Sunday, Chennai's seasoned players in the 30s confuted the critics, who insist on packing the side with youngsters.

Fitness matters more than age, says MS Dhoni after IPL triumph
PTI

Mumbai: By orchestrating the team's title triumph on Sunday, Chennai's seasoned players in the 30s confuted the critics, who insist on packing the side with youngsters.

After the auction, CSK were criticised for picking nine players in their 30s including Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu but they proved to be instrumental in the team's triumph after coming back from a two-year ban.

Rayudu (602) and Watson (555) were among top-five run-getters this IPL.

"We talked a lot about age but what matters is the fitness. Rayudu for example is 32, he's someone who is fit, covers a lot of ground. Even if he plays a few games where he spends a lot of time in the ground and in the field, he never complains. So it is the fitness that really matters more than the age aspect," said 36-year-old CSK captain MS Dhoni after the crushing win over Hyderabad.

"What captains want is players who move well in the field. It doesn't matter which year a player is born in, whether you are 19 or 20 - you have to be agile. You have to accept your shortcomings.

"For example if I push Watson to stop a single, there is a very good chance that he'll burst his hamstring and won't be available for the next game. So what you tell yourselves is that they have to commit and try, but there's no point getting injured for a single," said Dhoni.

Watson's sensational unbeaten 117-run knock ensured CSK chased down a challenging 179 with ease. It was a memorable tournament for the 36-year-old Australian, who ended with 555 runs with two centuries and as many half centuries.

"It's been a special season to be honest. To get a special season especially after the last season with RCB. It means a lot to be with a franchise like CSK. After those first ten balls I was only hoping to catch up to at least a run-a-ball," said the Australian.

Watson battled pain and injury to take the team home.

"The good thing is that I wouldn't be playing for the next three-four months; feels great. It gives me plenty of time to recover. Throughout the back end of the tournament I was hanging on. Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni have been looking after me really well and I am really glad to contribute like I did tonight (Sunday)," said Watson.

SRH captain Kane Williamson also had a rich run with the bat, amassing 735 runs to end as the season's highest run-getter. Willamson had replaced the suspended David Warner as captain just ahead of the IPL.

The New Zealander was disappointed that the team could not win the all- important final after posting 178 for six. We thought it'll be a competitive total, but the pitch did hold a bit. We saw that in our first five-six overs, and for the large part of the game we were doing okay. But hats off to Shane Watson. You do have to congratulate CSK," he said.

"It's (loss) frustrating, because we played some really good cricket for the large part. Wasn't to be, and they certainly showed their experience. The boys are hurting at the moment, but we've fought hard. A shame not to come across the line, but a lot of positives," he concluded.

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