Shane Watson plays a shot against India during the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup Super Eight match in Colombo. Photo: AP
The secret to Shane Watson's dominance of the World Twenty20 is a decent rest and a very good bat.
Having laid waste to India's spin-dependent attack at Premadasa Stadium on Friday night, and collected his third man of the match gong in as many appearances, Australia's busiest cricketer admitted he had benefited from being forced to sit out the recent one-day series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Australia's Shane Watson celebrates after dismissing India's Irfan Pathan during Super 8 clash. Photo: Reuters
When he joined the squad for a Twenty20 series against Pakistan, coach Mickey Arthur challenged him to define the tournament with his actions, and he has done that with innings of 51, 41 not out and 72 in the first three games, and eight wickets.
Arthur has said Watson, who also plays in the IPL and the Champions League, will continue to be pulled out of certain matches for his country in order to ensure he is fit and hungry for big series like the Ashes.
"I came off a five-week break and I was able to really get some training under my belt but also have a bit of a mental break, to be able to hit this Twenty20 world cup running," Watson said.
Watson plays a shot during his blistering innngs of 72 from 55 balls. Photo: Getty Images
"The games in Dubai were a brilliant lead-up for us, the conditions, the heat, and things have fallen my way here. In Twenty20 it's a very fine line between having a good game and having a not-so-good game, so you've got to make the most of these times."
That means Watson won't be offering to back off and give anyone else a go when Australia's Super Eights campaign continues against South Africa on Sunday and Pakistan on Tuesday.
The top two teams in each group progress to the semi-finals, and the Proteas are under pressure after losing from a position of power - some would say choking - against Pakistan in the early game on Friday.
Watson clubbed seven sixes against India, equalling David Warner's record. India's batsmen, with the potent Virender Sehwag sitting in the sheds after being left out to accommodate a fifth bowler, managed only two sixes between them.
Watson was asked afterwards whether he had been pumping iron, when in fact he has tried to stay out of the gym to avoid more injuries.
"I'm lucky I have a very good bat, so if you mis-hit it can still go a very long way."
Watson's three wickets included that of Yuvraj Singh, whose struggles against short-pitched bowling are well-known.
"That's a plan everyone has tried to attack him with and get the short balls in," he said.
Watson, whose 133-run opening stand with Warner broke their own national record, said Australia's bullish start to the tournament proved the team's best cricket was capable of winning it.
"That's what we came here for, to take that next step. We've still got a long way to go."