Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming says, Suresh Raina cannot be replaced

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MS Dhoni‘s Chennai Super Kings might have recorded two wins out of two in their comeback season of the IPL, but those wins have come at a price.

First Kedar Jadhav was ruled out of the tournament due to a hamstring injury, then Suresh Raina picked up a calf injury during the game against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Meanwhile, as South Africa’s Faf du Plessis was gaining full fitness, his countrymen Lungi Ngidi had to fly back home after the demise of his father.

To make it even worse, amidst security concerns CSK have been denied the chance to make Chennai their fortress as their remaining home games have been shifted to Pune; a decision that could hinder their prospect of going all the way mostly because the team has been picked according to the conditions at Chennai.

Speaking on the eve of their game against Kings XI Punjab, coach Stephen Fleming looked at the consequences arising due to the uncontrollables.

“There’s obviously been a lot going on. I guess the positive is we’ve had two wins in two. They haven’t been great performances, but they have been good character, scraping and fighting wins, which sometimes at the start of the tournament is more valuable. Yet, disappointed to be leaving Chennai.”

“We sat in the auction to pick a team that was based on conditions and Chennai and we’re disappointed that we only got one home game. We were pleased to have had that one home game, and had a win, but that was going to be a big part of our strategy this year,” Fleming said as quoted by Cricbuzz.

“But we have to adjust. We got injuries as well, other teams have got injuries but a couple of injuries to key Indian batsmen is again a challenge. But that’s a part of the IPL.

“We just need to keep scraping and if that’s going to be the quality of this side then I’ll be very proud of that. It’s keeping us on our toes, there’s certainly something happening everyday.”

“When asked whether there will be a change of strategies and combinations in the absence of Raina, Fleming said, “We can’t replace him (Raina), he’s one of the best performing players in the IPL and the highest run-scorer in the history (of the league). So we can’t replace him, we just got to find a way to minimise his loss.

“We’ve got good players in our set-up – Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay who’s played here last year. So there’s guys here with points to prove, with international experience, and if they get the chance they’ll do their best what Suresh Raina can do.

“(This is) an opportunity for someone else but you’d like to get someone like Suresh Raina back into your side as quick as possible.

“The blessing is we’ve got another four days in between and there might be a chance that he could be fit for the next game but we won’t rush him.”

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Kane Williamson leads Sunrisers Hyderabad to top of IPL table after Week 1

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Williamson's men are flying high. Image - SRH/Twitter.

Kane Williamson has steered Sunrisers Hyderabad to the top of the Indian Premier League table since the New Zealander was elevated to captain in the absence of scandal-tained David Warner.

Williamson, the only foreign captain in this season’s edition of the lucrative franchise, has ensured an unbeaten run for Hyderabad in the first three games of the Twenty20 league.

The Kiwi cuts a much lower profile than Warner but has notched 92 runs in the Sunrisers’ three matches, including a fifty in their win over Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday.

Hyderabad, who won the tournament in 2016, next face second-placed Kings XI Punjab, who recorded their second win on Sunday buoyed by a quick 63-run blitz by Chris Gayle.

“Obviously nice to win three in a row,” said Williamson after the Sunrisers’ win at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens last week.

“Bowlers have executed their skills really well, but we know every game is tough, so look to continue doing that.”

Williamson was a last-minute replacement for Warner after the high-profile Australian was banned from the IPL over the South Africa ball-tampering scandal.

Australia skipper Steve Smith – another big ticket name for the IPL – was also dropped as captain of the Rajasthan Royals.

The cheating row, so close to the IPL season launch, threatened to sully the billion-dollar franchise.

But the glitzy tournament is already earning its reputation with close finishes and big hits in steady supply just a few weeks into the world’s most popular T20 league.

“All the eight teams are striving for that extra “one-percenters’ that can make the difference between winning and losing,” former South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis wrote in The Times of India newspaper.

“On many occasions in the past ten years I have made the point that the difference between the top team and the bottom team in the IPL is smaller than any other cricket league in the world,” said Kallis, who advises the Knight Riders.

Gayle was only selected in the third round of IPL bidding, picked up by Punjab for just $314,000 in the January auctions that saw rookies going for more than $1 million.

But the West Indian did not disappoint, smashing 63 off 33 balls in his opener for the Kings XI.

Gayle hit 7 fours and 4 sixes as Kings XI defeated Chennai Super Kings by four runs and cruised into second place on the IPL ladder.

“It’s good to be back,” the 38-year-old big hitter said after Punjab’s win.

Other standout performances include a 14-ball fifty – the fastest in IPL history – by Punjab opener Lokesh Rahul and some entertaining knocks by Knight Riders batsman Andre Russell and England’s Jason Roy for Delhi Daredevils.

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IPL 2018: Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming praises MS Dhoni after Kings XI Punjab heroics

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MS Dhoni nearly led Chennai Super Kings to victory.

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming was proud of his team as it went down fighting against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday night at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali.

An MS Dhoni special, 79 not out off 44, kept CSK in the game before KXIP secured a four-run victory in the 12th game of IPL 2018.

According to Fleming though, it was KXIP opener Chris Gayle‘s knock of 63 off 33, including seven fours and six sixes that proved to be the difference.

“We were hit hard by Gayle. He played really well. We thought we might be able to pick him up with him being a little bit rusty. We did incredibly well to restrict the score to somewhere under 200,” Fleming said.

“The second half of our bowling during the innings was very good. We were able to get some wickets and create pressure. A score of 196 is still very high, but it’s a lot lower than what it could have been. I’m proud of the effort.

“During the chase, we just hung in and as good as Gayle was at the start of their innings, Dhoni was good at the back end of ours. We were only one hit away from stealing another win. A great game of cricket, that ebbed and flowed, and two really good batting performances from two senior players.”

The CSK skipper put in a show for the fans and almost took his team over the line, despite batting with a stiff back and depositing balls into the stands whenever pitched in his range.

“When you’re chasing, you get certainty in an uncertain game. So you can manage your risk, like you saw MS (Dhoni) managing his almost to perfection. It was a couple of good yorkers from Mohit Sharma that denied us a win,” the former Kiwi captain said. 

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