Fleming lauds Dhoni’s ‘vintage’ knock

Stephen Fleming, who has followed Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s IPL stint as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team-mate, coach and also as coach of the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), paid great compliments to the former India captain, who has retired from Test cricket and giving his all to ODIs and Twenty20s.

Rising Pune Supergiant coach Stephen Fleming says M. S. Dhoni is determined to deliver the goods.   -  File Photo

Stephen Fleming, who has followed Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s IPL stint as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team-mate, coach and also as coach of the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), paid great compliments to the former India captain, who has retired from Test cricket and giving his all to ODIs and Twenty20s.

When asked about Dhoni’s brilliant match winning display (61 not out off 34 balls) against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Pune on Saturday, Fleming said: “It was vintage, wasn’t it? It was a performance that was befitting of a man who has the reputation of being a great finisher. There has been a discussion around when was the last time he has played an innings like that. You got to remember playing an innings like that we had got a bit blasé about how special they were. But yesterday he proved again that when he is in the mood and has got the sight or the feel for the bowling he is still the most destructive closer because of his composure and hitting skills that the game has seen.”

Continuing his praise for a man whose calling in Twenty20 has been questioned, the New Zealander said: “And people were questioning his form, but certainly from the finishing point of view I will reiterate we got a bit blasé because it was happening so often. We benefited from it at Chennai a lot and people were yearning for a performance like that. And like all great players do, he delivered.’’

Was Dhoni himself getting a trifle anxious by his inability to put on board the big score (he has scored 17 IPL half centuries)?

Fleming, however, responded by saying: “Yes. He was determined. He has been training a lot. He has certainly hit a lot of balls and it was all building up to an innings of substance. He desperately wants us to do well this year. After last year, we all felt that we needed more contributions from everybody. He in particular was the one to put his hand up. So he has been wanting to win a game. (Steve) Smith as well, has been wanting to win a game and our big players want to contribute and one of our biggest did that yesterday which was great.’’

Fleming went on to say that Dhoni has never listened or been affected by all the off-field talk. “In some ways he isolates himself away from that which is a good thing especially in India with the pressure and the amount of talk there is. But still, the calmness he shows in such situations is one of his greatest assets. And yesterday, it was to the fore. We thought that it was probably late and we had not got too much of the total to leave us with a good chase in the end, but he proved it with the hitting and batting skills and the power that players have these days that no score is impossible and that puts so much pressure on the bowlers. And good bowlers too, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been bowling very well. It was a good match-up and a good result for us.’’

 

Win against Sunrisers is a good jump to have

Fleming also believes that two back to back wins doesn’t constitute a big momentum. But even then, he is happy that his team notched its third win on Saturday. “Yeah it was an important win. We went from last to fourth. If you shut the tournament now, we’ll be very happy. It’s a good jump to have. Two wins in a row doesn’t constitute big momentum, but any win you can get is important as a side like ours needed some confidence. We still have got a lot of new players who we have to understand and know and we have petered that down.

“If we can beat teams that are ahead of you and Mumbai is one of them it really affects the table and the game against the Sunrisers is a good reason for that. We have Mumbai and Kolkata and if we can get two of those or at least one of those two it will certainly keep us up and run-rates and any result you can pinch now is really important. Yesterday’s win was crucial.’’

RPS beat MI in the first match of the season and Fleming said that outcome could help his team in many ways. “It does. Steve Smith played well. Our batters played well chasing down that score. You do get good feelings from that. But I’m not a fan of the word momentum. That can stop with a quick over of poor cricket. We’ve got quite a tight little run now. So we have to make sure that our energy is high, and we play the game tomorrow as well as we can. That’s all I can ask for as a coach. Confidence is the key and Dhoni’s confidence up, Smith’s confidence is up and so is Rahul Tripathi’s.

The more players you can get experiencing those wins and good performances, then the more they back themselves in pressure situations. Confidence is thus the key word for me. We’ve got a boost, but we can do with some more.’’

Why did the team decide to practice on Sunday ?

“It’s just an option. Some players are still searching a little bit on form. And also, respecting our squad, it’s that time of the tournament where a number of players haven’t played. We don’t know what part they will play in the second half. And also the guys like Ben Stokes and others who haven’t quite got to where they want to, they just want to have a hit. The other thing is getting a feel for new grounds. Coming here and experiencing…maybe a different bounce in the wicket, if you haven’t played here before. We travelled last night. Usually on a travel day, we don’t (train) because it can be taxing. But we travelled last night after the game to give us that option to train.’’