Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming took solace from finding the “right player” in Ruturaj Gaikwad as he dealt with the mixed emotions of notching up victories after being knocked out of playoffs contention in the IPL here.
CSK dented Kolkata Knight Riders’ chances of advancing to the knockouts by defeating it here on Thursday. The three-time champion has just one game left to play in the competition after a disastrous early run put paid to its prospects of moving ahead.
REPORT | Six-wicket win
“Mixed reactions really, when you’re out of the competition, you’re not as nervous. You’re surely disappointed to watch it all unfold but still very pleased to get the win,” he said in the post-match press conference.
Fleming was lavish in his praise for Gaikwad who shone in the win with a 72-run knock, displaying the spark that skipper M. S. Dhoni did not see in the younger bunch of the side.
“He has done well in the last couple of games. We’re happy that he’s taken the opportunity. We look back at the missed opportunities when he got COVID-19. He missed out the pre-season, he came back after about four-five weeks in isolation,” Fleming recalled.
“We tried to get him involved but he was a long way from being ready. So we’re just happy now to create the opportunity and he has shown us that he’s the right player,” he added.
Fleming also lauded Gaikwad’s timing and described him as a very fluent player.
“He has got lovely timing, a very fluent player. It allows him to hit the ball in the gaps, a lot of power for a small guy. His net sessions in Chennai before we arrived here were outstanding and we’re disappointed that he had to miss the first two or three weeks with us,” Fleming said.
ALSO READ | Dhoni hails Ruturaj, Jadeja
Reflecting on CSK’s six-wicket win on Thursday, Fleming said it could have been much smoother.
“We were playing well, certainly we lost wickets and partnership of [Ambati] Rayudu and Ruturaj. But we felt we got ourselves in a position where we were probably the favourites to win…There was a little bit of luck and few twists for us to get over the line,” he added.
Fleming also had words of praise for all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja whose cameo (11-ball 31) took CSK past the line.
“He’s very free [in his batting]. He’s tried to play too smart but he’s now playing free. He trains very hard, he’s hitting a lot of balls and that’s paying off. His finishing in the middle to later parts of the tournament has been outstanding,” Fleming said.
CSK will take on Kings XI Punjab in its final game this season on Sunday.
KKR ‘still breathing in the competition’ – David Hussey
KKR mentor David Hussey tried to sound optimistic at the post-match press conference after his team’s six-wicket defeat to CSK on Thursday. The result meant KKR stays fifth in the table with 12 points. It needs to win its last league stage game and also need other results to go its way to make the playoffs.
“We have put ourselves in this position by losing games. But we are still breathing in the competition,” Hussey said.
“In a few days’ time, we are going to recharge our batteries and come out and play free-flowing cricket. You never know what could happen, results go our way and we can shock a few teams in the playoffs,” he said.
Hussey said that Chennai Super Kings played well and credited Ambati Rayudu and young Ruturaj Gaikwad for their splendid batting effort. “Every defeat is difficult. But full credit to Chennai, they deserved the win. They bowled and fielded well and then they chased the total,” he said.
“I thought 175 was par… full credit to Chennai. Their second wicket partnership batsmen Rayudu and the youngster from Maharashtra (Gaikwad) was sublime and went a long way in winning the game for Chennai,” he said.
Hussey praised opener Nitish Rana for his performance on the night after he made 87 to lead KKR to a score of 172. “He has had a very good tournament. A very consistent tournament. In the last few innings he has been a consistent player for KKR,” he said.