Stephen Fleming attributed Chennai Super Kings winning its third IPL title to "gut feel", "self-belief" and "people-driven" approach. While most teams use statistics to build game-plans and get the best out of their players, CSK's trust in its players and emphasis on reacting to match situations have bore the ultimate fruit.
Widely panned for assembling a squad which included 11 cricketers over the age of 30 in its comeback season, Chennai Super Kings exceeded all expectations when it defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final on Sunday.
Speaking to the media after arriving in Chennai on Monday, Fleming admitted he wasn't sure his side was the best on paper heading into the competition and that it was the team's 'strong desire' which enabled it to taste triumph.
READ: The Super Kings story
"Most teams are meticulous in planning with the use of stats. If anything, we just use a little bit more of cricket feel and gut feel on people. We invest a lot on people with the length of contracts and the type of personality. So, we are not stats driven, we are people driven and that's something we will continue to do," said Fleming.
Coming back into the fold after a two-year suspension, the CSK management entrusted responsibility to the tried and tested combination of Fleming and skipper M.S. Dhoni. "As far as CSK is concerned, you all know obviously it’s a team that has worked as a unit. I was very confident that when we come back after two years, we will definitely do well. The credit goes to Fleming and MS," said the CEO Kasi Viswanathan.
Fleming, who has been with the franchise as both player and coach for nine seasons, elaborated on the loyalty shown by the team management towards its former players while picking the side in the auction. "Our franchise backs us very well. We have been consistent with the players that we have picked and once we have a core group we have bucked the trend by sticking with them through thick and thin. That's what has given us an overall chance of success. This season as well, we went back to players we really respected and the loyalty comes back in droves," he said.
The former New Zealand skipper said that the team identified individuals who have been on the periphery of their national teams and saw it as an opportunity to give them a consistent role in a side.
The Dhoni effect
"Dhoni does have a strong influence and impact on players; he tends to give players belief. What we as management try to do is give strong roles for the players. You couple that with MS' belief and confidence in a player with a strong role, that tends to work for us," Fleming explained.
That faith helped in bringing the best out of players like Rayudu and Shane Watson, who led the batting charts for CSK with 602 and 555 runs respectively.
Having managed to defy the odds, Fleming is aware of the need to keep up with the game. "We will look to evolve and next season it will be an even bigger challenge. It has been identified that we are an older side so we got to make sure that the players who are retained are still professional and can contribute. It's 12 months away and we are still in the euphoria of last night's win."
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