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After a little fumble in the beginning with two home losses, the Chennai Super Kings have brought their IPL 2013 campaign back on track with three wins on the bounce. Now CSK aim to gain a significant leverage of points as they prepare to take on the inspired Sunrisers Hyderabad at home on Thursday.
“We have been playing well, especially in the last game (chasing down 185 against RR),” said CSK’s coach Stephen Fleming on the eve of the match. “We want to go to the top of the table and we know that by winning this game we will get back there and increase the gap in points between us the other teams.”
While the wins have been coming, there are areas of concern for the Super Kings to address. Fleming admitted that one of them is death bowling.
“Bowling at the death is a very tough skill to master as there are some big hitters batting then who can put even the good balls away. We do want to get better at that and in fact, at our bowling performance on the whole,” he said.
With the pacers going for runs in the final overs, a case arises for off-spinner, R Ashwin, one of CSK’s most consistent performers and disciplined bowlers to bowl an over in the end. Fleming, however, said he would rather prefer the pacers doing their job in the power-play and end overs so that Ashwin can be used as an attacking option.
“Ashwin is the go-to guy for the captain and he’s proven time and time again that he’s the guy to get the breakthrough. I would love him to bowl in the middle and pick wickets so the onus goes on our opening bowlers.
“I think we’ve leaked too many runs in the first six overs consistently over the tournament and so Ashwin has had to come in a bit earlier. But the ideal formula would be for him to come and build after the pacers have got early wickets. That allows Ashwin to attack. If we bring him on to defend the runs, we won’t be able to get as much out of him,” the coach explained.
Another concern for CSK is the lack of runs from Murali Vijay’s bat. But Fleming said the opener is not in bad shape and will be persisted with. “Around the same time in the tournament last year we dropped Vijay as he was not doing too well. But this time he is doing all the right things. It’s just not happening out there in the middle. So, this season we will back him for a while longer. We know that when he comes good, he’s real good,” Fleming said.
Acknowledging the few shortcomings of the team, the CSK coach said the important thing is one department putting their hands up when the other fails. In the end it’s about ending up on the winning side.
“We’ve had games where the bowlers have done well and those where the batsmen have; we haven’t put in a complete performance yet. “There’s always something to be worried about but if we win and get past the line especially in tight games, that’s more important for me. It’s about showing character rather than being in form all the time. It’s too much to ask off your team to be at its best in every game. If we do enough to win games and get through to the final, that will be great,” Fleming said.
Adjectives are at a dearth when it comes to describing Sachin Tendulkar. Throughout his 23-year-old career, Tendulkar the batsman has been admired, but, yet, one cannot help but admire the humility of the master blaster off the field as well.
The ‘Master Blaster’ who turned 40 on Wednesday, made an appearance in front of the media for a cake cutting ceremony and took the opportunity to thank his fans and well wishers for the unconditional love they have showered on him till date.
“First of all thank you very much to all of you for this gesture. It is really touching. I was just walking to get here and met Anil Kumble along the way who wished me Happy Birthday and said, “Don’t worry Forty is only a number. That is very relieving,” said Tendulkar as he was all smiles addressing the press here in Kolkata.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people of India and all across the world who are well wishers of mine, who have supported me throughout and showered their unconditional love for me over the last 23 years. It has been really special and because of the good wishes and prayers, I am standing here in front of you after 23 years. It has been my strength. I thought this was the best opportunity to come here and thank each and every one of them for every little thing that they have done for me,” added a humble Sachin.
The master blaster also expressed gratitude to the billions of fans who have stood by him like a spine through the ups and downs of his glorious career. “There have been various people who have made various sacrifices for me, have gone on a fast and all those kind of things when I was injured. I just want to say ‘Thank You’ to all, which I believe is not enough. I would have personally liked to meet them and thank them, but it is not possible, so I thought this is the best forum from where I can reach out to most of them and give my thanks.”
Sachin more than obliged to pose for the shutterbugs and cater to the needs of the other media personnel. One of them even asked his wife; Anjali Tendulkar to join Sachin and offer him a piece of cake. “Abhi Muh pe lagane nahi bolna! (Now don’t ask her to put some cake on my face),” chirped Tendulkar as he showed his funny side as well.
Those around just could not walk back without a smile on their face, whatever the circumstance, however small the interaction, with ‘The Legend’.