Pandya-fan Fleming not too worried by MI drubbing

Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard added 29 runs in the last over to help Mumbai Indians reach a mammoth total against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming said his side is looking at Indian bowlers’ skill-sets to fill the gaps in the pace department.   -  FILE PHOTO/B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM


Little more than a decade ago, when Twenty20 cricket took baby steps, it’s major appeal was its pace. The idea was simple: teams will play ninety minutes of action-packed cricket in each innings, and the entire affair will be over in three hours.

But in its 12th edition, the Indian Premier League — which remains T20 cricket’s biggest platform — seems to have lost its pace.

Most of the night games have eventually gone on past midnight. Though some of the team captains — Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma — have been fined for maintaining slow over-rates, it did not help the matter.

Even on Wednesday, the fixture between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings got over at 11.55 pm — well past its scheduled time, rushing the spectators to the last local train from Churchgate.

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CSK coach Stephen Fleming admits that if things get slow, it defeats the purpose of having the shortest format. “(It’s) too slow… I think it’s gotta be a collective shift from everybody. Say players as well as on-field monitoring. There’s bit of broadcasting (involved) as well. There are times when you are waiting to come back, so it’s a collective effort, the whole thing can be sped up,” Fleming said.

He reasoned that ‘the moisture does play a part.’

“So, we have had couple of games which have been dewy, so wiping the ball was a consideration. I think cricket in general is played at a pace below where it needs to be. So, I would like to see all forms of the game increasing pace. That puts pressure on captains and bowlers, so be it,” Fleming, who has been associated with the IPL ever since its inception in 2008, said.

But then, is there a way to speed up the process?

“You manage (things) on field a bit more strictly, and you ask the captains and bowlers to be a bit more sure about the plans. (If) we are reaching more than four hours, we are defeating the purpose of the short format,” Fleming, a former New Zealand captain, said.

Fleming didn’t seem too worried about CSK’s 37-run loss. “We just got a little bit complicated. We have been simple and really effective (so far),” he said.

With Lungi Ngidi and David Willey out of action, the three-time champion team has struggled a bit in terms of overseas bowling options. Even though it has brought in Scott Kuggeleijn, who is yet to feature in the playing XI.

“Willey and Lungi were our pace bowling options. (Scott) has come in but he is going to take little bit time. He is in Chennai. Mohit Sharma is coming back from injury. This game was one that was going to be tough for the balance of our side, we knew that. We hunt up pretty well, but I think the last five-six overs, (we went) a bit unsettled,” he said,

“We are not playing just for three overs, we are happy with our batting line-up, and we are looking at our bowling options. Without the two overseas players, we are looking at Indian options. It’s the skills that we are looking at, it doesn’t matter if its an Indian or an overseas player. We are looking for the best combination that we think we can put up. They (the bowlers) did pretty well till the 15-16 overs. The last three to four overs, the game just got away,” Fleming said, referring to the CSK bowlers conceding big runs in the last four overs.

With Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard in good touch, the two added 29 runs in the last over to help Mumbai Indians reach a mammoth total and Fleming heaped praises on Pandya.

Hardik Pandya celebrates a dismissal at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.   -  AP


“As a cricketer, I am a massive fan (of Hardik Pandya). He is a wonderful player. With his confidence up, looks like he is got a good thing going at the death, so the plans for the teams is to try and combat (him at) death,” Fleming said.

“We are happy with what we were trying to do, we just executed it poorly. He is a quality player. Pollard as well. He is one of Mumbai’s key weapons, one of India’s key players going forward. If you keep him out of the game then you often go close to winning,” Fleming said. But unfortunately for CSK, the all-rounder dished out a match-winning performance to steal its thunder.

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