Chennai Super Kings need to quickly get over the mauling they received from Glenn Maxwell’s punitive bat and bounce back to win their high-octane clash against Mumbai Indians, head coach Stephen Fleming said on Friday.
“We had reflected on the Maxwell factor at the press conference (at Cuttack two nights ago). On the positive side we scored (around) 190 (187). Our batsmanship is looking good. But we can tie up under pressure and Maxwell has put us under a lot of pressure in this tournament,” said the former New Zealand skipper at the pre-game media conference.
The Australian went on a rampage at the Barabati Stadium to slam 90 in only 38 balls with the help of 8 sixes and 6 fours, which piloted Kings XI Punjab to a season-high 231 for 4 and the two-time former champions replied with 187 for 6 to lose the game by 44 runs, their second defeat in 8 games, the earlier loss also coming against the same opponents in UAE.
“But in other games we have been good. We need to bounce back and play well in this game and get another win under our belt which is very important,” said Fleming.
Fleming said his side was concentrating on regaining the momentum and finishing in the top two after the league stage to get a crack at a direct spot in the final through the first qualifier on May 27.
“It’s crucial to go on a run and win six in a row which will put us in a very good position. We know the next three games very important for us. All we are concentrating on is to sustain (position) in the top 2 by winning tomorrow and maintain pressure on Rajasthan (Royals) and Sunrisers (Hyderabad). The table can change very quickly,” he explained.
The key for his side after the loss in the previous game was to stay calm which they had exhibited in the past, felt Fleming.
“There’s pressure there. We need to get on a winning run to ease the pressure. The moment you lose pressure builds up. Our challenge is to maintain calm. Over the years we have done that well even when we were in a lot of trouble. T20 is highly emotionally strung. We have to maintain smart presence on the field.”
“I think it’s not quite at the stage where you can see the trend (on who will qualify for the play-offs). Looking at the quality of the sides, Mumbai can go on a run now and win 4-5 games. It looks tough for Delhi, but those two sides have got the capability. I am pretty sure someone else will join the pack.”
“Teams are more even this year. Some teams’ key players are not in form. On paper they are a lot more balanced than in the past.
You are going to see lot more matches where it’s hard to predict the outcome and therefore the tournament should be a lot closer,” Fleming said.
Fleming was all praise for young medium pacer Mohit Sharma who has been their leading wicket taker.
“When we introduced Mohit last year in IPL he showed he was capable of doing pretty good things though he had not been exposed to high-end cricket.
“Since then he played for India, played in (T20) World Cup (in Bangladesh). He has come back to us after learning some new tricks. He would get better with more experience and once he starts to understand how well he could be. I am very happy with Mohit’s performance.”
Fleming said though they are missing injured West Indian all rounder Dwayne Bravo, the team is concerned more about who is available.
“We miss him. We miss all the players we have had over the years. But what we have put together is a consistent side so far and after winning six out of 7 or 8 you are pretty happy with the way things are going. It’s not about Bravo, it’s about all round ability and a competitive streak.
“It’s more about positivity, about we have got and what we have got is a team which is good enough to go on and win six in a run (row) and hopefully we can finish that up.”
Fleming said he had been staggered at the batting displays he has witnessed this year in IPL, especially from the likes of Maxwell, A B de Villiers and his own team’s openers Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum.
“They are really pushing boundaries as to what can be achieved. The de Villiers innings the other night and Maxwell again, Smith and McCullum. The batsmanship, skill and courage they have showed to play some of those shots is quite staggering for a past player. I admire every time I see that.”
“It’s amazing how these players are exploring what batsmanship can be. I know people question how it’s going to affect Tests – the purity side of things. But from the 20-20 skill factor these guys are unbelievable.”