The immediate ramification of Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) 24-run loss to Pune Warriors India (PWI) was the sheer number of questions about the former’s baffling — at least, on the face of it — selection decisions. Who better to respond to them than coach Stephen Fleming, who’s been CSK’s trusted stonewaller in almost every media interaction.
True to his nature, Fleming made an elaborate case for his choices — particularly, the omission of Michael Hussey in favour of Albie Morkel, and the inclusion of Anirudha Srikkanth as an opener.
“The logic was to increase firepower in our hitting and be more aggressive at the top. Hussey’s obviously world class but the skipper has always liked Albie’s ability in the middle. Trust me there was no complacency, we were just poor today,” he said after the match on Monday.
While acknowledging that Pune had scored “20 more runs,” he explained the team’s helplessness against Steven Smith’s counter-offensive.
“He’s an annoying player. He’s like AB de Villiers; you can’t set fields for such outstanding T20 shots.”
On Morkel not bowling, Fleming said he wasn’t aware of the reason as that was Dhoni’s decision.
The Kiwi, in the past, has been critical of the surface here but he refused to blame it for the defeat this time around.
“We aren’t going to over-analyse it. We want to take our performance to the next level and make sure our decision-making is spot on for the conditions.”
Earlier, Pune’s stand-in captain Ross Taylor praised Smith. “He batted outstandingly well and displayed great intensity on the field. I don’t think he needs to worry about not being on the score-sheet come next game.”
The 29-year-old said Yuvraj Singh was ruled out of the next game as well with injury. On his own poor run lately, Taylor admitted there was pressure on him. “We have got Steven playing well. Luke Wright and a few others will want to go out there and play. Pressure is good. It brings out competitiveness and can only bode well for the team.”