With five wins from six games, the Chennai Super Kings are perched at the top of the Pepsi IPL 2014 points table. The MS Dhoni-led side has carefully worked its way to the top and is cautious to not let complacency set in.
While the team has fired on all cylinders to garner 10 points in the tournament so far, it is only their net run-rate that separates them from Kings XI Punjab who are currently placed second. Ahead of the team’s match against Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozeshah Kotla on May 5, coach Stephen Fleming addressed the media prior to their training session on Sunday afternoon. Speaking about the team’s performance, Fleming credited Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith for their contributions. Brought into the side ahead of the season, both batsmen have played a crucial role in setting up the matches in their team’s favour.
Speaking about McCullum, with whom he has shared space in the new Zealand dressing room, Fleming said, “It’s been very good. I have enjoyed my time with him in the New Zealand side. He was obviously pretty young then, but he has developed well; he is now our national captain and is playing some great cricket and we were delighted to get him because he brings a number of things with him, and not just runs. He has leadership qualities and he has an energy about him which is infectious. Then there is also the running between the wickets in combination with Dwayne Smith. And along with Faf du Plessis and the Indian fielders, there is real electricity in the field. His runs and the opening partnership has certainly been one of the highlights.”
He was equally delighted with Smith’s form and contribution. “We were obviously delighted to get him in our team. He had hit us (for runs) when he played against us. So, one way to stop him was to buy him. We were very happy to buy him and get rid of that headache,” he said.
But on a more serious note, he was full of praise for the West Indian's cricket sensibilities. “He is a wonderful player and he has surprised me with his intelligence. And I don’t say that disrespectfully. But his intelligence towards the game (is great), he is a very good reader of the game and along with Brendon McCullum they have created a good partnership so far. I think we all know that form can be a bit fickle in the Twenty20 format, but so far they have been incredibly consistent and that is one of the main reasons we have done so well,” he added.
Speaking about his team’s run in the IPL this season, coach Stephen Fleming said, “It’s been going well so far. We have played a good game of cricket but there is still a long way to go. We have been in positions where we realise how quickly things can change.”
While he said, “There is a nice mood in the camp, still very determined to keep playing well,” he added a note of caution and mentioned, “We know that we can’t relax at any stage. It’s not an easy game.”
“If you ask me, we have won five out of six, so I would take it any time. Perennially, we have been slow starters. So to get a start like this has been excellent. It has been good. there is a lot of hard work that goes in picking the side and getting the dynamic right. We have been lucky with our selections and have been repaid for our faith already. It has been a good feeling in the camp and also there is a realism around the stop-start nature of form within the IPL.”
“For most departments it has been going well; our fielding has been excellent and the batting has been good. We are always cautious while making statements like that, but at this stage the way things are going in all departments, it is good,” Fleming concluded.