IPL 2021, KKR vs CSK: It has been a contrasting season for MS Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings. After winning the first match, CSK slumped to three straight defeats in IPL 2020 but this time, it has been the opposite. They lost the first match to Delhi Capitals and then won three matches on the tort to surge to the top of the points table. One of the wins came against Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday with both batting and bowling departments firing at the same time. CSK coach Stephen Fleming said that change in attitude and mindset are responsible for the change in fortunes.
“It’s a change in attitude and also personnel. It’s probably both of those things just making sure that we have a lot of batting that you can play a high-risk game and that gives confidence. You might not use the players like today, but it gives confidence for the players to play a certain way,” Stephen Fleming said at the post-match press conference on Wednesday.
IPL 2021, KKR vs CSK: ‘We felt we were a little bit thin last year,’ says Stephen Fleming
Last season, Chennai Super Kings struggled in the absence of Suresh Raina in the middle-order with MS Dhoni not going through a lean patch. This time with Moeen Ali firing at the top and Suresh Raina is back anchoring the innings, CSK have once again found the balance.
“We felt we were a little bit thin last year. It’s a high-risk game. So, we were a little bit conservative. But once again, we were coming out of Chennai where, as you’ve seen a 150-160 is very adequate. So, we had to really swivel around and change and more attitude than anything this year. I think we’ve added some players that have made a difference already. But the attitude is probably the number one thing. So, a real mind shift,” Stephen Fleming said.
IPL 2021, KKR vs CSK: ‘We rate Ruturaj very highly,’ Stephen Fleming says
MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings will also be relieved to see opener Ruturaj Gaikwad finally finding his form after failing in the first three matches. After managing 5, 5 and 10 in the last three matches, Gaikwad played a brilliant knock of 64 runs off just 42 balls to set the stage for CSK to post a big total. The youngster shared a 115-run opening stand with Faf du Plessis as CSK set a 221-run target for KKR. Despite his failures in the first three matches, Chennai Super Kings and Stephen Fleming backed Gaikwad and was happy to see him find his form. Fleming said that the franchise rates Ruturaj highly.
“From my point of view, he was working with Michael Hussey, but I know for a fact that it’s been no different than what we’ve been talking about all the way through and that just keeps playing. We rate him very highly and I think that came through my messages. I know there was a bit of pressure on from outside, but inside the camp, there was absolutely no doubt what he’s capable of,” Stephen Fleming said.
“But naturally you want the player to get into the tournament and relax and do well, but he’s such a stylish player and he trains well. He’s got talent oozing out of him and it also a matter of time. But the IPL is quite unique. So, there was some pressure there, but the mental aspect of getting a good performance in today, we’ll do him a lot of good,” he added.
IPL 2021, KKR vs CSK: 3 wins out of 4 exceeded expectations: Fleming
The former Kiwi captain said that the team was looking to change the style of play that suited playing in Chennai where a 150-160 score is adequate. In venues like Wankhede, 220 is chaseable and Chennai Super Kings had to change the sluggish way of playing to extract maximum advantage. That was one of the reasons why CSK finished 7th in IPL 2020. This time, they look better in both departments and aiding Wankhede wicket just aided their performance.
“We learned a lot about ourselves from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. And I think I’ve said it’s very hard when you’re so conditioned to play a certain style, to have to do 180 and start playing completely different. That was the challenge we had last year. But I was really satisfied with the way we finished the tournament off and a lot of the things that we learned,” Stephen Fleming said.
“We had to add some personnel and get some players back and we did that, but in saying that, we still have to keep working on the style of play. That has been the focus in pre-season knowing that five games can certainly have a big impact on the IPL. So, a very big focus on making sure we assist the conditions here and there is quite unique. It’s very hard to, to know what you’re going to get day in and day out. So, we’ve done that pretty well,” he further said,
“I’d say three out of four is probably exceeded expectations. We felt maybe three out of five or if we’ve got a couple would be good and look at other areas where our traditional game would stand up, but we’re very proud with the way the batting, in particular, is standing out. That’s two 190s and a 220. So, we’re playing well in that department and that’s by design, which is good,” Fleming added.
However, CSK will be worried about Shardul Thakur’s performance. In the last four matches, Thakur has bagged only three wickets and has been expensive including in the match against KKR. He went for 48 in 3.1 overs without any scalp. But Fleming, like Ruturaj, is sticking with Shardul.
“For Shardul, yes, this game can be a little bit brutal. He today was pretty good. He took over the death yorkers that they would see from Bravo. And even though the game was hectic, there was some element of control there and execution is very hard when you’ve got hitters like Russell and Karthik and Cummins at the end to keep delivering that. But I thought he was good,” Stephen Fleming said.
As for skipper MS Dhoni’s whose parents have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been hospitalized, Fleming said the team management is in touch with the player and his family and offer all the help they need.
“There was not a lot of talk between the players, but from a management point of view, we’re well aware of his family situation. The support has been set up for MS Dhoni and his family and talking with MS. The situation is under control for now, but we will monitor that over the next few days, obviously. It’s a tough time for everybody and the fact that it’s affecting India in the way it is, but also it will reach into the IPL with friends and family and hopefully not into the bubbles. We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about the care of the friends and families and the wider group. So, we’ll have that. We have that responsibility to make sure that he’s got the support he needs, and we hope that his family recovers quickly,” Fleming signed off.