Playoffs means opportunity to manage workloads, but won’t be too experimental: Fleming

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Reaching the IPL playoffs early is an opportunity for Chennai Super Kings to better manage their veteran players’ workload but head coach Stephen Fleming has made it clear that the team management “won’t be too experimental.”

Chennai Super Kings produced a convincing performance against Sunrisers Hyderabad to maintain their remarkable consistency this season and sail into the Indian Premier League play-offs here on Thursday with a six-wick win.

“I am not big on momentum. Momentum can go as quick as you have it. We don’t really talk about that. What we have probably been afforded is that we can manage workloads of players a bit better,” Fleming said.

“We have got a day and travel to Abu Dhabi and a day and then a game. The opportunities for guys who are on the fringe… we have afforded that luxury now. But we won’t be too experimental,” he added.

The three-time IPL champions have 18 points on the back of nine wins from 11 matches and are the first team to secure a spot in the playoffs.

The turnaround for CSK has been remarkable after a forgettable IPL-13 last year when they failed to make the playoffs for the first time, and Fleming said they finished well and took confidence out of it to emerge stronger.

“I think I mentioned it at that time. We were really proud of the way we finished. The way we won the last four games in a row and started to get a little bit of rhythm together. In the first half of the tournament, a number of things went wrong.

“Our form and confidence were really low but the way we finished was really encouraging and gave us the look of what we could be,” Fleming said at the virtual post-match conference.

“We sat down and analysed to get competitive and took confidence out of it and knew it was just a couple of positions that might make a better balanced side.

“In fact though it was a bad year, we were only a win away from a semifinal. Just about trying to create a balanced side that would suit us. It was just about creating an environment that was positive and making sure there was no doubt,” he pointed out.

Fleming also said he was impressed with the way veteran West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo had risen to the challenge and that his bowling in death overs has been outstanding.

“It was a really good competition between Dwayne Bravo and Sam Curran. Sam was excellent in the first part. Bravo has come back now and the champion that he is… He is back to his best and his bowling in the death overs has been outstanding.

“It’s really good that two very good players are competing for the all-rounder spot and getting the best out of each other. Maybe, we can have an opportunity where they both play together. We are impressed with the way Bravo has addressed the challenge,” he said.

The CSK head coach played down concerns over the form of experienced southpaw Suresh Raina (157 runs from 11 innings with 1 fifty) and said he expected him to improve his performance as the tournament progresses.

“We have a pretty clear role for him. He has got an optimal time. We want him to bat and we’ve afforded the luxury of a player coming out and being aggressive. So, just getting the timing right without managing the batters.

“We value his experience and everything has got a part to play in the middle. Suresh is an experienced player who has earned a bit of a leeway and as the tournament goes on, his performance will improve,” Fleming added.

SRH head coach Trevor Bayliss said the bowlers did a good job on the night and showed a lot of character to keep the team in the game.

“The most pleasing thing is that we showed a lot of character with our bowling to stay in the game. When you are going through a run of losses like we are in this IPL, it is quite easy to give up in situations like that.

“If you stay in the game we give ourselves an opportunity, whatever that opportunity is. We came back pretty well in the game in the last two-three overs. All credit to the bowlers tonight,” Bayliss said.

Looking at the positives, he said the fielding had been good throughout the tournament and praised the efforts of West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder.

“As I said, our fielding has been quite good throughout the tournament. It is one of the things we want to pride ourselves on and make a difference on the field. I think from the bowling point of view, Holder has been pretty consistent for us.

“I thought Sid Kaul in the last 2 games that he has played has been good. The two overs that Abhishek (Sharma) bowled tonight were quite good as well. That is a positive sign for us,” Bayliss added.

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