IPL 2019: Winning without Dhoni is difficult, says Fleming

CSK's regular captain had missed his side's previous game with a back spasm but showed no signs of injury in his batting on the eve of the RCB game, as he carted the spinners out of the nets time after time.

Dhoni has been CSK's top-scorer this IPL season with 230 runs from six innings.   -  k murali kumar

An enormous cheer greeted M.S. Dhoni as he entered the ground for CSK's training session on Saturday. The team had been in the field for nearly an hour and a half before Dhoni walked in, just as some supporters had been wondering if he would turn up at all.

CSK's regular captain had missed his side's previous game with a back spasm but he showed no signs of injury in his batting here, as he carted the spinners out of the nets time after time.

Dhoni has been CSK's top-scorer this IPL season with 230 runs from six innings. But with qualification for the play-offs almost guaranteed and a World Cup around the corner, it would be understandable if the India superstar did not want to take any chances.

READ| IPL 2019: Dhoni misses first CSK match since 2010

Dhoni left after having batted for an hour while Sam Billings, who stood behind the stumps for CSK in Hyderabad, performed wicket-keeping drills in the outfield.

Was it difficult for CSK to win without Dhoni, coach Stephen Fleming was asked. "Yeah, it is [difficult]," he said. "He is a great player. Whenever a great player isn’t in your side, it means there is a hole to fill, and he has been in great form. So it does have an impact on your side, as well as the captaincy.

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"You get used to a certain style of play and when you lose arguably your best player and your captain, you have to make adjustments but it doesn’t mean that we are not competitive.”

With rain in the city over the last few days, it was difficult to predict the nature of the pitch, Fleming felt. "It's obviously overcast and a little bit damp around, so you need to wait 24 hours, it's going to change a lot in nature," he said. "I think it will be a good track, possibly a high-scoring game. But we'll read it tomorrow and make an assessment. You can't assume it is going to be 200 vs 200."

This fixture was memorably high-scoring last year, Dhoni clobbering an unbeaten 34-ball-70 as CSK chased down 205. The crowds thronging the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday would be grateful for another Dhoni special.