IPL Fleming defends CSK players after KKR loss

Defending his players after the loss to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game here, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) head coach Stephen Fleming said the team has performed well so far and changes are not required after just one bad game.

Poor fielding and bowling let CSK down against KKR at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday night.

Ravindra Jadeja, regarded as one of the best fielders around, dropped KKR opener Sunil Narine twice on six, off successive deliveries by pacer K.M. Asif.

Narine was adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his all-round show — 32 runs and 2/20 — as KKR secured a six-wicket victory with 14 balls to spare. They moved to the third spot in the points table while CSK dropped to second.

“We were exposed and I think sometimes it reflected on the bowling. Certainly we were on the backfoot with some good fielders making mistakes, it hit down a little bit,” Fleming said at the post match press conference while referring to Jadeja’s gaffes.

“Look, that can happen in a long tournament… It’s not a great performance by any means but we have got hours rather than days to rectify. A loss just is a little slap on the face and hopefully it has not affected in day and half’s time and there’s still going to be hardwork.

“We got to be careful that we don’t get too carried away after one bad game where the bowling looked a little bit off. It’s too easy to start chopping and changing after one bad game. Look those guys bowled us to a win in the last game. You just got be careful and not be too knee-jerk and make sure that you run the sequence long enough to see true form come through,” the former New Zealand skipper added.

Fleming also asserted that CSK had set a competitive target for the hosts by posting 177/5 after being asked to bat.

“We were not that unhappy with 178, that’s a pretty competitive target. We just did not start well enough, we had opportunities but could not take them,” he said.

Apart from his mistakes in the field, Jadeja — who is going through a slump in form — was also lacklustre with both the bat and ball. He scored 12 runs from as many balls and returned figures of 1/39.

Fleming, who pointed out that CSK should have increased the scoring rate in the final overs, urged the all-rounder to pull up his socks.

“We lost a little bit of intensity, could have scored a little bit more in the last four-five overs. A little bit more obviously from Jadeja. He got to score more than run a ball if he’s going to fill that role,” the CSK coach said.

Giving credit to KKR spinners, Fleming said: “Their spinners were one of our main concerns. Narine is quality both at the start or at the end of the innings. The way he bowls, he takes a couple of overs out of your innings. He stunted momentum.

“It’s just another night where we were just fractionally off and as a team we just can’t afford to do that. We were not that good a side where we can have bad days and still get win. We can compete but the result is probably appropriate.”

Fleming also lauded U-19 World Cup winning batsman Shubman Gill whose unbeaten 36-ball 57 helped KKR get past the line.

Top order batsman Gill, who had to bat at No.7 in the previous matches, was promoted to No.4 on Thursday in the absence of the injured Nitish Rana.

The 18-year-old from Punjab grabbed the opportunity with both hands and played a classy innings.

“He played well. It was interesting when the two youngsters were at the crease. We looked to put pressure on them. Some of his shotmaking maybe a bit predetermined but it’s exciting to watch. Gill got more composure. He’s been batting down the order, it was his first real opportunity. He took that opportunity and played a big part winning the match,” Fleming said.

CSK next take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at their newly adopted home town of Pune on Saturday.

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Rohit Kumar founded Vimocafe in 2016. He covers Entertainment news from the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada Film industries.