Noting with satisfaction that M. S. Dhoni has virtually made it through to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Stephen Fleming, the Chennai Super Kings head coach, hopes he will continue to play for the IPL franchise for a longer period.
The future depends on the motivations of the 37-year-old Dhoni, according to Fleming.
“I certainly was hoping he would get through to the World Cup, and he’s going to do that. [He’s] absolutely as strong as he can be. What he wants to do after that, I’m not sure. It’s certainly not a discussion that I’ve had; discussions have been around whether he’s going to make it to the World Cup. And he’s answered that pretty emphatically these last 12 months, six months in particular. I’d love him to carry on with Chennai [Super Kings] to the end of this cycle and then assess, but it’s really a question for him and his motivations. He’s playing well; he’s leading well; and he seems to be enjoying himself. So, these three key factors will hopefully keep him in the game for a long time,” Fleming said at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Monday, ahead of his side’s IPL contest against Delhi Capitals.
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Fleming praised another stalwart of Indian cricket, for his contribution in the inaugural rubber. The 38-year-old Harbhajan Singh took three wickets in what was a winning start for Super Kings, against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.
“My thoughts [about Harbhajan] are very, very good. He was fantastic in the first game. And it just shows experience is very important. We place a high premium on experience of Chennai [Super Kings] and again it came to the fore. So, there are a lot of left-handers in the Delhi side which is the consideration we had when we played the last game against [Royal Challengers] Bangalore, and that would be another discussion point,” Fleming said.
Commenting on his first impressions of the pitch here, Fleming said, “The last game was a difficult one for the batters, and the bowlers excelled. It’s okay to have those every now and then. My first look at [the pitch tells me] it’s reasonably dry. Given the fact that we use spinners as one of our tactics, that would be the consideration but we are also pretty well balanced. There is also a little bit of assistance for seam bowling as well; we have got bowlers who can exploit that.”
However, he cautioned his side against planning too much. “You’ve really got to concentrate a lot on your players and the skills that they’ve got. It is fine to identify weakness [in the opposition], but you’ve got to make sure it marries with the skills you’ve got. There’s no point asking a player to bowl 150kmph yorkers if they can’t bowl at 150kmph. So it’s one thing to identify weakness; it’s another thing to exploit it. You’ve got to make sure you don’t detract from what you do well in an attempt to try and upset the others,” Fleming said.
The contest begins at 8pm on Tuesday.