Fleming: ‘Watson produced one of his greatest performances'

Adapting to the Pune surface, the resurgence of retired Australia international Shane Watson and the importance of experience — words of wisdom from the Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming.

Shane Watson celebrates after securing Chennai Super Kings' third IPL title at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.   -  AFP

Chasing 200-plus totals, shifting out of Chennai due to political tensions and tinkering with strategies to get the right combination — Stephen Fleming made some crucial decisions to keep Chennai Super Kings above the rest in the tournament. 

A few hours after laying his hands on the trophy at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday, the CSK head coach revealed the secret behind the success. “It all comes from the leadership. We had quite an impact moving to Pune as we had picked players suited to the Chennai conditions. We made more changes to the squad as we suddenly became a seaming side with a little bit of spin. It is quite a bit of turnaround. I am really proud how we adapted to that. I am proud how different individuals stood up at key times,” said Fleming, reiterating the importance of having experienced players in the side.

READ: Shane Watson conquers SRH, steers CSK to IPL glory

CSK faced criticisms for choosing retired internationals like Shane Watson, but the Aussie’s magnificent ton (117 off 57 balls) made the difference in Sunday's final. “We believed experience coming back into the competition was going to be a key component. There were a lot of emotions in the franchise for what had happened and there was a lot of reasoning behind this team. Communication and defining roles was crucial,” he added.

Fleming stressed on the importance of characters in the side and cited the example of Ambati Rayudu. “Rayudu was a character who I valued. Even M. S. (Dhoni) was open about batting him up the order. Kedar Jadhav was another good character, who we lost (due to injury).”

Watson – the main man

Fleming gauged Watson’s abilities, even at 36, tracking his progress in the Big Bash League. “When he played for Royal Challengers Bangalore, he batted at number four. I also watched him closely at the Big Bash and there were signs that he was in good form. I had no doubt he was going to make an impact. Fitness was an issue as it is a long tournament but he is more professional than I thought. He is a bit broken now but he produced one of his greatest performances tonight,” he said.

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Fleming praised Watson’s forbearance. “The opening spell was outstanding from SRH. It was a real battle in the first four overs but Shane gradually found a bit of rhythm and range. He kept patient and didn’t give it way. He knew his power game would get the team out of trouble. He has been a star performer for us,” he added.