Chennai Super Kings' head coach Stephen Fleming heaped praise on the spin trio of Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja and Imran Tahir after the home team scripted a thrilling win over Kings XI Punjab at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.
Punjab was cruising at one stage in chase of 161 but the spinners bowled in tandem and choked the batsmen.
"Harbhajan and Imran created the pressure and I think our spinners kept us in the game. It was difficult for the last five or six to get the momentum and it took some Dhoni magic along with Rayudu to take us to that competitive score. So there was a discussion that it won't be easy to get to the target if we create some pressure," Fleming said at the post-match press conference.
Scott Kuggeleijn, who replaced an injured Dwayne Bravo was not up to the mark during his first spell as he leaked runs and lacked control. However, the New Zealand all-rounder was assigned the task of defending 26 runs in the last over and he did the job to perfection.
When asked about the turnaround, Fleming said, "I think he took some time to identify what length to bowl and after Harbhajan and Imran's overs and with a high asking run-rate, Scott got it right. Deepak Chahar got off with the penultimate over quite well and then Kuggeleijn did the job."
"We lost Lungi Ngidi and we needed to find someone and Scott interests me because he has the pace and has played international cricket. It's just three days since he has arrived and to throw him into a big match like this, I think he handled well. There were certain instructions and he delivered as his confidence was high. There can be nerves, I was a little bit worried but he handled himself very well," he added.
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Elaborating further, he said, "It can be tough but we need to back him. To be a part of the group and to win the match is a lot positive. His pace can be a little bit down but introducing Scott today I think we have some more options."
Faf du Plessis playing his first game of the season scored a match-winning half-century and Fleming said that the team knew that the South African was in good form.
"He has been in very good form for South Africa and we have been conscious that he was in good form. He can manipulate the bowling and has power. It wasn't an easy track but the longer the batter batted they would get runs."
'Batsmen didn't turn the switch on'
Losing skipper R. Ashwin said that his team had the chance of winning and rued the fact that the batsmen failed to take off at the death overs.
"I think we were in with a great chance but somehow the batters didn't turn on the switch in the last few overs. But I think it was a great effort - from seven for two to a match-winning situation - and we had enough in the shed with David Miller and Mandeep Singh. It just didn't go our way and it can happen when you are playing an away game, Credit to Sarfaraz and Rahul for the way they batted," he said.
Speaking about the bowlers, Ashwin said, "We bowled well and we got them to an under-par score and we were in great control."
Sarfaraz had a difficult couple of seasons but has responded well in this edition of the tournament. The Punjab skipper backed the batsman and said, "He is a very fine player. He has got some incredible abilities and it wasn't an easy wicket to bat and I believe the person who couldn't cross the line today will cross tomorrow."