We are not playing winning cricket, asserts upset Fleming

Gujarat Lions is playing smart cricket to score four wins out of five games, despite being one of the two new squads in IPL 2016. Rising Pune Supergiants, the other newcomer, suffered its fourth defeat in five matches and is yet to gel into an effective unit.

RPS is still going through experiments with available talent, and coach Fleming has been tinkering with the squad from match to match.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Gujarat Lions is playing smart cricket to score four wins out of five games, despite being one of the two new squads in IPL 2016. Rising Pune Supergiants, the other newcomer, suffered its fourth defeat in five matches and is yet to gel into an effective unit.

M. S. Dhoni and Stephen Fleming, as captain and coach respectively, were expected to work out a way to forge a group of performers capable of raising their game in tough situations. RPS is still going through experiments with available talent, changing players and roles from match to match.

Fleming, feeling the heat after watching his side lose to Kolkata Knight Riders in the 20th over, said the changes so far was due to the focus on identifying strengths by putting players in different situations. “As a new team we’re trying to understand what combination is going to work in what conditions.”

The RPS coach elaborated: “It’s not ideal but when you have a new squad, it is about learning how players react, trying to find the patterns that work. It is just part and parcel of the situation we find ourselves in.” Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin has realised what the team expects from him. Rajat Bhatia and Ajinkya Rahane have also been effective.

Asked about what it will take for the turnaround to happen, Fleming said: “I’ve been in the IPL long enough to know that we have to sleep on it. Tomorrow we’ve got to travel down and then we are back (for home ties at the MCA stadium). It is pretty clear that while we don’t want to put the onus on victories, we have to get victories.”

Thisara Perera and Bhatia gave a fright to RCB in the previous tie. Bhatia and Murugan kept KKR big-hitters Suryakumar Yadav and Yusuf Pathan in check, but the streak of losses continue. Asked about team morale, the RPS coach said: “I was angry with the way things went. We’re not playing winning cricket.”

As the game against KKR played out, bowlers found help from the MCA stadium wicket and run-making was difficult. “160 was a very good score on that surface and should have been easily defended. You saw there was a lot of assistance for the slow bowlers, but we didn’t adjust, we didn’t use that spin, we didn’t create enough pressure and we kept Kolkata in the game.”

RPS played its second home match at the MCA stadium, got home support but the famous names did not justify reputations. “On a pitch (like this) you should really shut the team (KKR) down. The amount of turn and difficulty for batsmen with the pace of the ball. With that knowledge, I thought we will shut them down. It is disappointing.”

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