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Coach wants his team to shed the tag of slow starters
By IPL Staff
Chennai 05 April 2013
Chennai Super Kings have consistently been one of the strongest team in IPL since the inception of the tournament. But despite remaining the only team in the competition to make the top-four in all five seasons, coach Stephen Fleming wants CSK’s journey in IPL 2013 to be different from the last four years.
The Super Kings have been notorious of getting off to a slow start before peeking at critical junctures in the tournament. In IPL 2012, the defending champions almost fumbled out of the tournament before crawling their way into the playoffs. They eventually lost to the Kolkata Knight Riders in the final.
Fleming wants that to change this time. He wants his team to begin on the right foot. “We’re not happy that we’re a slow-starting side,” Fleming said while addressing the media ahead of CSK’s opening game of the season, against the Mumbai Indians at the Chepauk. “It does take us some time to get into the tournament. It depends on where our key performers come from because we rely a lot on our Indian players,” the coach said, hoping things would be different this time around.
“Generally right before the IPL there’s one or the other big international event that takes place. This time it’s different. With the great series win against Australia you feel that the confidence within the core Indian players in our team is very high. Hopefully that translates to a good start.”
Fleming said the team could’ve identified a way to be more consistent right through the tournament – by sticking to a similar playing XI most times. “Apart from the first season when we won our first four games, we haven’t been good enough, although we’ve improved in areas where we thought needed improvement. But we’ve realised that we cannot keep making changes in the playing XI too often. This year we’ll be conservative with our selection and maintain the competition within the squad.”
However, in the very first match, the team will have to make a few changes in the combination due to the absence of two of their South African stars. While all-rounder Albie Morkel will miss a few matches due to his commitment to the Titans in South Africa’s domestic T20 tournament, CSK’s opening batsman, Faf du Plessis will miss the first month of IPL with a lower back injury.
While acknowledging the class of Morkel cannot be replaced, the CSK coach believed the Indian players can fill the shoes well. “We’re an Indian side that’s complemented by internationals,” he said.
“We can’t replace Albie but what we can do is place another all-rounder in his place. In R Ashwin and (Suresh) Raina with his off-spin we have two good Indian options. With (Dwayne) Bravo, we have more firepower when it comes to an all-rounder,” he said.
du Plessis was the surprise package for CSK in IPL 2012 with 398 runs at the top of the order, including three half-centuries. Thankfully for the Chennai-based team, the Test retirement of Michael Hussey will lessen the headache.
“Considering Faf du Plessis will not be there with us for the first month it has worked out very well,” Fleming said of Hussey’s availability for the entire duration of IPL 2013. “Last year Faf and Mike Hussey were competing for a spot and it was one of our challenges whether we could fit them both in the side. Hussey being available for the full season will make Faf’s absence a lesser blow. It’s a bit up and down in T20 cricket but Mike and Murali Vijay have been very good for us at the top of the order,” the former New Zealand captain said.
While batting has always been CSK’s strength, death bowling has let them down at times, due to more options in the pace department. Fleming was glad that the team has covered that area in the 2013 IPL Player Auction.
“We’ve got some good pacers in our side now with Jason Holder, Dirk Nannes and Chris Morris joining in this year. Now we’ve fallen into the category that a lot of teams have been in, in the way that we have a lot of options to choose from.”
MI coach admits a plethora of stars makes selection job tough
By IPL Staff
Chennai 05 April 2013
John Wright’s homecoming to India didn’t begin on a merry note as the Mumbai Indians went down by two runs against a Gayle-powered Royal Challengers Bangalore outfit in their first game. But the coach knows much better than to read too much into that loss.
Wright knows he has an incredible amount of class at his disposal in all departments, especially so when it comes to the leadership group. “We want to work as a team’ and we’ve each got specific roles,” Wright said of MI’s team management that includes himself, mentor Anil Kumble, captain Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar.
“Anil brings great knowledge of Indian conditions and IPL in general because he’s been part of it right since its inception. That’s a huge help. Ricky and Sachin have huge leadership qualities which the players benefit from during net practice and both on and off the field. I am there to organise the practice sessions and helping the players off the field in whatever way they need me to.
“I think IPL is a very challenging environment to coach in because it’s a very fast moving tournament. Having such experienced leadership group around them helps the young players not only to perform in the IPL but in their overall development as well.
Besides its second to none core leadership group, the most exciting feature of MI in IPL 2013 is the opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. The top two run-getters in the history of Test cricket became batting partners for the first time in their careers during MI’s first game of the season. Wright termed it as a “unique feature of the IPL”.
“It’s great for the competition and it’s a unique feature of the IPL where you have the likes of Sachin and Ponting batting together. That’s why the tournament excites the fans. They too are finding it exciting to bat together, something they probably have never done before. It’s also such a unique learning opportunity for the youngsters in our team,” Wright said, while confirming that MI will stick to the Tendulkar-Ponting opening pair for the next few games of the tournament.
“We feel that Ponting and Sachin opening for us is currently the right thing and we’ve talked about it in the team. We definitely have high-skilled batsmen who can rotate the strike. But if we can combine that skill with a couple of power-hitters, we’re going to be a stronger unit,” Wright said. One way of maintaining the fire-and-ice combination at the top that Wright spoke about is to promote Kieron Pollard higher than his usual No.6 position. The coach admitted the big West Indian could’ve taken MI to a win against RCB had he been given a few more balls to face. “It’s just the way it turned out; I suppose in retrospect he could’ve gone in earlier,” he said.
Like most things in life, having a star-studded squad too has it flip side, as Wright is experiencing with the Mumbai Indians. “It is difficult. Sometimes, you’re too spoilt for choice and everyone wants to play. This is probably the toughest team I’m coaching when it comes to selecting the final XI because we have a number of high-class players and they all are very keen to play.
“We’re looking at our combinations. The great thing about our side is that we’ve got a lot of flexibility since we’ve got players that can play in any position. I know most batsmen like to bat at the top in T20 cricket but some of the more difficult positions are 5, 6, 7. It’s an important task for the team management to indentify the talent and give players roles according to that,” Wright said.
While talking about the star, the coach didn’t forget the young kid on the block who he discovered from the land of Gujarat.
“We’re really happy with Jasprit’s (BUmrah) debut. I saw him bowl in a domestic T20 in Ahmedabad and he caught the eye. We talked to some of the people who’ve seen him closely and decided to pick him. He’s got an interesting action and he’s also got some pace. He will add a bit of variation in our attack. To be able to perform the way he did in his first big match in front of a huge crowd, it was a very encouraging start,” Wright said.