Fleming aims to tighten PowerPlay work in Qualifier II

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming accepted being outplayed by Mumbai Indians in Qualifier I of IPL 2019.

Fleming also said that it has been a tough season for CSK batsmen at home.   -  AP Photo

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming feels the “seismic” nature of the surface at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium made life tougher for his batters in the Qualifier I clash against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday.

Opting to bat as against chasing at home [due to the change of weather conditions of late], the Super Kings could manage only 131 runs on the rank turner. Fleming thought it was a challenging total owing to the strip but the host lost the game by six wickets and nine balls to spare; courtesy, Suryakumar Yadav’s unbeaten 71 that snatched a bit of limelight from the debatable pitch.

“They are a great side. They are playing a nice brand of cricket under pressure even in our conditions. They have a pretty good record in Chennai. It is a good challenge when you come up against a side like that. They outplayed us, we could be fourth-time lucky.

Read: Finishing in the top-two gives us a second chance, says Dhoni

“It is tough [to bat] in these conditions. We are trying to stay positive and have good intent but the wicket is tricky right from ball one. You want the batters to be positive but you need a little bit of luck and a lot of skill. It has been a tough season for batters this season at home,” Fleming reflected as his side prepares for its second chance to make it to the finals on May 10 in Qualifier II.

It will take on the winner of the Eliminator.

“I thought we had enough runs in a pressure situation on that surface. We had to be really good on the field, stay patient and create balls to create doubts. It was unfortunate and they had a nice partnership going. I was confident at half-time that we had to bowl well,” he said.

Leg-spinner Karn Sharma, who has been on the sidelines, had a chance to cast his magic in the playoffs. He brings in the luck factor as he flaunts seven wickets in five games in the history of IPL playoffs. A decent bat down the order, Karn has also been part of three IPL-winning sides. Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016, Mumbai in 2017 and the Super Kings in 2018.

Also read: How Mumbai qualified for its last four finals

But the management stuck to its core line-up. “It is probably not in the number one category. The boy has been in the discussion all the way through. We try to allow players as much time as possible. If we make changes now, it goes against the grind. He has come close a number of times but the balance of the side was asking for five bowlers and strengthen the batting because it is tough. It doesn’t make sense to weaken your batting to improve your bowling. It’s a dilemma we had throughout,” Fleming reasoned.

“We pick players who are proven performers. This could be a crude game if you are playing in conditions like this half-the season. We have made balanced decisions.”

Going into the second semifinal, Fleming aims to tighten the side’s batting performance in the PowerPlay. “We are finding ourselves behind in the PowerPlay. We have to have an element of safety. We need to have more balance in the first six and make a huge score, close to 160, which is a match-winning score,” he said.