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MS Dhoni, Stephen Fleming address issues behind CSK’s poor start to IPL 2020


After securing victory over the Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the 2020 IPL, Chennai Super Kings have suffered back-to-back defeats to Rajasthan Royals, and the Delhi Capitals yesterday. The absence of Ambati Rayudu since the second game and the average performance from the two CSK spinners have played major roles in the 3-time IPL champions falling well short twice in the last couple of matches. 

CSK skipper MS Dhoni and head coach Stephen Fleming addressed the issues faced by their sides in various departments after the Delhi Capitals game. On CSK’s batting combination, Fleming said, “Well, we’re a bit muddled at the moment. We’re missing some key players, and we’re trying to find a balance that allows us to be competitive. We’re looking to develop a personality based on the wickets that we’re facing.

“Each wicket has been completely different, and our batting line-up is, without Rayudu, [Suresh] Raina, etc, we’re trying to find a way or a combination and how to use players, and give players opportunities early on, so we know what we’ve got as the tournament goes on. We’ve learned a massive amount over three days. Today’s performance was on the weak side in terms of intent, but they (the Capitals) also bowled very well.”

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Fleming also clarified the reason behind not promoting left-handers Sam Curran or Ravindra Jadeja up the order to tackle the spinners. He said, “We’ve used that tactic in the last couple of games, but with Kedar Jadhav and also MS, we’ve almost got too many batting options at the moment, so that’s why I say we were a little bit muddled with what we’re sending out, so we just need to be a little bit clearer with what we’re doing, and perhaps what we’re missing is a bigger contribution at the top.

“Yeah, it’s a lot of question marks and a lot of soul-searching in particular from the coaching point of view and the strategy point of view, but we’re trying to find combinations where we get the best players in at the right times. To keep shunting the order all over the place is not really our style, but we’ve had a go at it and we’ll review how it’s gone.”


Sam Curran helped CSK secure victory with the bat in CSK’s opening game v MI

Dhoni suggested that CSK’s batting line-up lacked a bit of steam. He said, “I feel when it comes to the batting department, we are lacking a bit of steam. There is no momentum right from the start, which hurts. If you are already chasing 160-plus, the run-rate keeps mounting and it puts added pressure on the middle-order batsmen. So we need to figure that out.

“We are one batter heavy to start off with but at the same time, if you are looking to get one more seamer or spinner into the side then the batsmen need to take that added pressure. I feel Rayudu will come back in the next game so that gives us some cushion, or liberty of trying something different.”

The spin bowling department has given major concerns to the CSK camp over the last couple of games. Fleming said on the issue, “It’s an area of concern, because it’s been such a strength for CSK, and you’ve got to think that the style of play that we’ve developed over the last 12 years is heavily based on spin. So what we’re trying to do is find, I guess, a different personality. Spin still plays a part, and what we’ve struggled to do so far [is] we’ve played on three different grounds, so each game has been different conditions.

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“We’re struggling to adjust to find the pace and the style to bowl through the middle, and that, in the last two games in particular, has been an area where we haven’t done so well. So going from a strength to an area of concern; we need to rectify that.”

Dhoni said on the same, “The thing is, if you look at the whole bowling department, they’ve not been very consistent. So it’s not like you can change four bowlers out of five. I think the spinners, yes, they have not come to the party yet.”

Dhoni also talked about the performance of their pacers, saying, “Overall, if we get more and more consistent with our length, line and pace it will be good when it comes to team selection… It’s not like we have been very consistent with fast bowling. We are bowling good deliveries, but in between, we are giving a boundary opportunity. Maybe on fields like this – you know, bigger fields – it’s best to be consistent with one line and let the batsmen play the big shot rather than trying too many things and giving them an opportunity to score a boundary.”