Dubai: Chennai Super Kings’ head coach Stephen Fleming has insisted that his three-time champions could still end up chasing when they take on the Delhi Capitals in the 2020 IPL at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, on Friday.
Chennai opened with a convincing win against defending champions Mumbai Indians in the competition last Saturday before falling by 16 runs to Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday. “In our case it has been that we are not sure. We look at it as almost safety-first so we get an understanding of what the wickets are going to be like. Both games that we’ve played so far have been the first games of the tournament, in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, and to get a feel of the conditions we thought bowling first was the best way to go,” Fleming told the team’s website on Thursday.
“It does seem to be a trend, but bowling first is a bit of an advantage with the dew (setting in later).”
Fleming admitted to a slow start from the squad considering the long layoff from the sport due to the pandemic. “One of the biggest challenges is to find the right combinations and also give the guys some match play, keeping in mind we’ve got a number of players who haven’t played for 12 months. We are working hard on a number of fronts, one is to get the right team for the conditions which we’ve been unsure about, and also to get the guys up to speed with their playing form,” Fleming said.
“You can do as much practice and training as you like, but it doesn’t completely replicate what happens in the middle. So, it was always going to be an interesting start for us. I think we’ll take one from one with a lot of areas to improve.”
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One of the talking points this season has been skipper MS Dhoni batting down the order, and Fleming was only willing to come to the rescue of his captain. “MS is one of the players that hasn’t played much cricket in the last year-and-a-half. Everyone expects MS to come out and do what he has done in the past. It doesn’t just happen, it takes a bit of work and a part of his process of getting up to speed is his game time and that (match against Rajasthan Royals) was really the first time that he’d batted in the middle apart from a couple of balls against Mumbai Indians,” he said.
“As the tournament goes on, he’ll just get better and better. To come in and expect him to get a 30-ball 70 would be a tough ask and we’ve other players also who are in good form and can do a job. So, it’s valuing what each player can do and also respecting Dhoni is one of a kind when he’s in form and has been playing.”
In addition, CSK have been hampered with injuries to Dwayne Bravo and Ambati Rayudu. “Rayudu is our in-form player and to lose him at that time (against RR) was disappointing. Hopefully it’s only a couple of games. We’ve got a six-day break after this (Friday’s match against DC), and we are hoping that he’ll be back for the game on October 2 (against Sunrisers Hyderabad),” Fleming said.
“Bravo is progressing very well, and if he has a couple of good days of training, he could come into selection consideration for the next game. That would be a good headache for us to have as we’re looking to introduce players and also get our best combination for the rest of the tournament. You don’t necessarily pick your final-winning side in the first two or three games, but as soon as you can settle and get some cohesion into the team you are better off for, and that’s what we are working towards now, giving new players opportunity and then settle.”