Stephen Fleming: It was a game of inches and metres

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Stephen Fleming: It was a game of inches and metres

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SportsCafe Desk


Rising Pune Supergiant coach Stephen Fleming believes that the final between Pune and Mumbai Indians lost in moments and losing key wickets at important junctures killed the game. But the former Kiwi skipper heaped praise on his team and said that he was proud of team’s performance this season.

Both the teams fought really hard till the last ball on a sluggish two-paced Hyderabad strip, where batsmen found it difficult to score runs freely. But Mumbai Indians' bowlers, particularly Jasprit Bumrah (2/26) and Mitchell Johnson (3/26), kept their nerves under immense pressure to defeat Pune by one run and Fleming believes that losing those wickets was team’s undoing in the summit clash.

“It was a game of inches and metres,” he sighed. “Steven Smith came very close to winning it in the last over. It was an even fight on a tough wicket to score on. We knew that it was going to be a tough total. We knew Mumbai have top-class bowlers. We fell behind a couple of times. We lost wickets at key times and we could not kill the game. They just hung in and created pressure to get over the line. It was full of pressure, mistakes and it was full of great performances.”

After losing Rahul Tripathi early in the run chase, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith added 54 runs from 57 balls to stabilise the innings but had they put their foot on the accelerator a tad earlier, the eventual result could have been different.

“We were having a feeling that it was a grind with the bat,” insisted Fleming. “We were a batter short with Ben Stokes not being a part. We were playing an extra bowler and we were aware of it. The best way was a couple of partnerships. We saw Smith and Rahane come close to that. We just lost wickets at key times and it kept Mumbai Indians in the game.

“We just could not capitalise on one or two overs where we were close to putting the game away. We lost wickets or they bowled a good over. It was not a wicket where they could blast your way through. Batting deep was the best opportunity and we could not get over the line.”

Although the final result didn’t go in the team’s favour, Fleming counts the positives among which relatively low-key players like Jaydev Unadkat, Rahul Tripathi and Manoj Tiwary stand out.

“I am very proud,” he said. “We are not a skilled side in the IPL. In this campaign, we have had some players stand up from nowhere. We take real pride in that. We have created an environment where some players excel.

“Jaydev (Unadkat) has been extraordinary, so have been Rahul Tripathi and (Manoj) Tiwary. Big stars have stepped up at key times. Ben Stokes was fantastic for us. I am very proud of the combination we put together and the campaign we ran. We would have loved to have sat here and had the icing on the cake, but it does not change the feelings about the work that we put in at the start of the year,” he added.

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