Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming insisted that it’s an arduous task for a team to completely change its philosophy and pointed out how Mumbai Indians struggled to adapt to a slow-ish Chennai wicket. On a flat Wankhede deck, Chennai’s holes were exposed by a ruthless Delhi side.
For the first time in seven years, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) lost their first game of an IPL season as the Super Kings plummeted to a seven-wicket thrashing at the hands of a rampant Delhi Capitals, who out-did the Men in Yellow with both bat and ball. Playing on a historically flat wicket like the Wankhede was always going to be a challenge for the MS Dhoni-led side but while they did fairly alright with the bat, putting up a healthy 188, the impotency in their bowling was exposed by DC, who dusted the target off with eight balls to spare.
Given CSK are scheduled to play each of their next four games at the Wankhede, questions have been raised about the side’s ability to adapt and compete on dead batting tracks, and speaking post the Delhi defeat, head coach Stephen Fleming insisted that it’ll take time for the Super Kings to adjust. Fleming stressed that it can be difficult for a side to completely change its philosophy and pointed to the example of Mumbai Indians, who lost their first game of the season in alien conditions in Chennai.
"We will learn a lot from being here for another 4 games. But don't underestimate how much it takes to change the philosophy of a side. We are very much a Chennai-based side," Fleming said in the post-match press conference.
"We saw Mumbai struggle to a degree in Chennai the other night. They have got a challenge on how to change their tactics in Chennai and our tactics have to be a little bit better with the ball in Mumbai. So, it's one of the quirks of this competition in this Covid-19 age and we just have to find a way. It's going to be high-scoring games in Mumbai and toss might play a crucial role.”
Despite suffering a heavy defeat on paper, there were quite a few silver linings for CSK in Saturday’s encounter, not least the form of Suresh Raina. Playing his first IPL game in two years, the veteran batsman looked in golden touch and hurried his way to 54 off just 36 balls before perishing due to an unfortunate mix-up. Fleming expressed deep satisfaction over the way Raina batted and described his surge back to form as a ‘huge positive’ for the side.
"It's really good, considering the cricket and where he has come from. It was an outstanding innings. We put Moeen Ali up as an aggressor and also used Suresh's aggressive role to get to play some cricket and find some form. But after playing 2-3 shots, he really got going.
"It's a really positive sign for us. I liked the way we turned it on after losing wickets when the wicket was tacky. We just weren't able to create chances with the ball, which is really disappointing," Fleming said.
Chennai will play their second game of the season on April 16 - at the same venue - versus Punjab Kings, but the franchise will not be able to bolster its pace attack. Fleming confirmed that both Lungi Ngidi and Jason Behrendorff will not be available for the clash, and conceded that his side are a bit thin on the bowling front.
“Ngidi won’t be available. he won’t be arriving for the next game. So losing Josh Hazlewood, which was the plan to have him available for these games is a blow simply as an option upfront. Ngidi will be arriving soon. Behrendorff would be following that. [Bowling] it’s an area that we are probably short on.”