CSK coach Stephen Fleming, in wake of his side’s mauling at the hands of Mumbai, claimed that his team’s powerplay performance was ‘tough to watch’ and admitted that the game was lost inside the first six overs. Fleming further hinted at evaluating players in the last 3 games, ahead of the auction.
A 125, batting first versus Rajasthan, was, till yesterday, considered Chennai Super Kings’ worst batting performance of the season but on Friday in Sharjah, the Men in Yellow dished out an effort that made their hustle against the Royals look like a masterclass. Winning the toss and batting first, the Super Kings lost not one, not two, but five wickets inside the first six overs to add more embarrassment to what has already been the worst season in the club’s history.
Right from the very first ball of the encounter, the three-time champions looked mentally defeated and the horror powerplay set-up the game for Mumbai, who thrashed their arch-rivals by 10 wickets to hand CSK the worst defeat in the franchise’s 12-year history.
On the back of the CSK batsmen getting humiliated for the second time in as many games, coach Stephen Fleming claimed that the side’s display in the powerplay was mortifying. Fleming conceded that CSK lost the game inside the first six overs and admitted that it was a phase that was ‘tough to watch’.
“We’re pretty stunned, really. It was a terrible powerplay. To lose wickets so frequently and quickly, the game was almost over in the powerplay. It was tough watching,” Fleming said in the post match press conference.
“Obviously we had a couple of young guys who were given an opportunity - which didn’t work out. But they bowled well and we nicked them. It was tough. The message in the timeout was to scrape to as many runs as we can, as our bowling was strong in the game in terms of the overseas options.”
Unlike games in the past, CSK made a plethora of changes ahead of the Mumbai encounter on Friday, bringing in youngsters Ruturaj Gaikwad and Narayan Jagadeesan, while also handing a maiden IPL 2020 appearance to veteran Imran Tahir. The move looked positive on paper, but it did not translate into results as while the two Indian batsmen scored a duck, Tahir never really had a chance to get into the game owing to the target being a paltry 115. Fleming claimed that the disaster-show on Friday summed up CSK’s IPL 2020 season where all tactical moves made by the management have turned out to be a massive miss.
“Our opening stands have been a bit poor, so it was nothing but a positive move for Ruturaj Gaikwad to spend a few balls and start to find his feet. The reason he was there (in the team) was to introduce Imran Tahir. Our spin bowling has been a little bit ineffective, so when you’ve got one of the world’s best T20 spinners waiting, you’re keen to introduce him.
“Today was the day (when Tahir came in) and it was a poor batting performance. So it sort of sums up our tournament, really. Tactically everything we’ve tried has been the opposite, and today was an example of that.”
Not for the first time this season, Sam Curran emerged as a rare shining light in an otherwise dull and soulless team performance. Walking in at 21-5, Curran struck a fine, measured fifty to take CSK to a respectable score of 114 and to further add to his reputation as the MVP of the side. Coach Fleming was full of praise for the youngster, who has enjoyed an exceptional season with both bat and ball. With CSK all but knocked out of the tournament, the head coach also echoed skipper MS Dhoni and revealed that the final three games will be used to evaluate players, heading into the next auction cycle.
“He (Sam) is doing everything right, isn’t he. He has taken every opportunity and his performances show a lot of character. Today’s (performance) was exceptional. He’s been very good for us in what has been a disappointing season. What we’re doing now is trying to get as many positives as we can - Sam is one, and there will be opportunities to the others.
“We will look to finish the season well - by no means are we gonna give up 3 games, we want to win our last 3 games - but on the other hand, it’s important we answer every question about all players as we head into the next auction cycle.”