• Watson has hailed Dhoni for backing him in IPL 2019
  • Watson top-scored for CSK with 555 runs in 2018
  • IPL 2020 is set to begin on Sept. 19 in the UAE

Former Australian batsman Shane Watson has hailed the leadership group of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), which includes captain MS Dhoni and head coach Stephen Fleming.

After being associated with Rajasthan Royals (RR) from 2008 to 2015, Watson moved to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for a season before being signed by CSK ahead of IPL 2018. The Aussie all-rounder had a brilliant debut season with Chennai, where he scored 555 runs in 15 innings at a decent average of 39.64. CSK were returning from a two-year ban and Watson played a key role in helping the side clinch their third IPL title, which they did by defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the final. Watson finished as the tournament's fifth-highest run-scorer and top-scored among the CSK batsmen.

Watson struggled during CSK's initial matches in IPL 2019 but received immense backing from his skipper and team coach. Watson went without registering a fifty in CSK's first 10 games before scoring a 53-ball 96 against SRH. He then scored an 80 off 59 deliveries in the final, but CSK ended up losing to Mumbai Indians (MI) by just one run.

Ahead of IPL 2020, Watson appeared on Nabeel Hashmi's YouTube show and discussed various topics, including how CSK stuck with him through "thick and thin."

"Last year, certainly CSK stuck with me through thick and thin. In every other team that I've been in, I may have been dropped a couple of games before I got the runs against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Just them backing me, knowing my next few good innings were around the corner. Only world-class leaders will really stick by and have the confidence to do that, given the caliber of the players we've got," Watson said on Nabeel Hashmi's YouTube show.

Watson, who retired from international cricket in 2016, went on to explain that it was a great example of the fact that if you believe in someone's ability, they will come good at some stage. "It worked out well as I was able to contribute, not in the final, I got run out in the last over, but up until then, I got as close," added Watson in the same interview.

The 39-year-old batsman also said he was glad to be a part of a franchise that looks after everyone so "unbelievably well."

Recollecting his time with RR during IPL's early years, Watson said, "When I played for Royals against Chennai, I always admired Stephen Fleming, and MS as well, the way he carried himself on and off the field. To be able to play at CSK and experience the way the franchise is run incredibly well from top-down was a very special experience."

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni will lead favorites India at the World Twenty20. Getty Images

CSK will lock horns against MI in IPL 2020's opening fixture on Sept. 19 in Abu Dhabi. The round-robin matches of this year's tournament will be played across three cities: Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. MI are the defending champions and have won a record four titles, one more than arch-rivals CSK.