Having earlier become the first team to qualify for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 play-offs, Chennai have seen the momentum slip away of late with two defeats in their last three outings.
The latest of them came in a crushing six-wicket loss to Kings XI Punjab at Mohali on Sunday in what was their fifth defeat this campaign.
Question marks have been raised over the form of Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu but Fleming is backing the veterans to step up in the play-offs.
“It (form) ebbs and flows throughout the tournament. We can still get better on all facets,” Fleming said after the defeat to KXIP.
“We’re now getting into one-off games, and we’re going to back these players right through to the end.
“We have drifted a bit in the last couple of games with a little bit of fatigue and a little bit of being near the top of the table. But that’s over now, and we can focus on the one-off game in Chennai and go wherever we need to go after that.”
While Chennai are in danger of losing momentum at the most crucial stage of the tournament, there are no such worries for Mumbai who finished the league stage in control after a thumping nine-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders.
With Mumbai men picking up steam at just the right time, skipper Rohit Sharma is a confident man heading into the play-offs.
“It is something we know about the IPL that the business end matters. We always come back well in the second half of the tournament,” he said after Sunday’s win over KKR.
“In all three trophies that we have won, the boys have picked themselves up in the business end.”
While defending champions CSK have won six of their seven home matches at the Chepauk Stadium this season, their only loss at the venue came against Mumbai itself. Rohit’s men have a positive 5-2 head-to-head record against MS Dhoni’s troops at the venue and that should see them hold the slight psychological edge in Tuesday’s clash.
Mumbai and Chennai are the two most dominant teams in the history of the IPL with both franchises having won the competition thrice apiece.
The winner of the first Qualifier will gain a direct entry into the final to be held on May 12 while the loser will get another shot in Qualifier 2 set to take place at Vizag on Friday.
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wk and c), Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir.
Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Anukul Roy, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga.
Jadhav hurt his shoulder while fielding in the deep at Mohali on Sunday in the 14th over of Kings XI’s innings and did not subsequently return to the field.
The right-handed batsman is now expected to play no further part in the remainder of the tournament in a news which will have the Indian team management gravely worried less than a month before the 2019 World Cup gets underway in England.
“Kedar Jadhav’s getting an x-ray and a scan tomorrow,” CSK coach Stephen Fleming had stated after the clash.
“We’re hopeful for him. I don’t think we’ll see him again in this tournament for us. So now his attention will turn to what it looks like for the World Cup. He’s in some discomfort but we just need to be accurate with our assessments tomorrow.
“Fingers crossed that it’s nothing too serious but it didn’t look that good.”
Jadhav is part of the 15-man India squad for the World Cup which is set to depart for England on May 22. If he is unable to recover in time, India might be forced to turn towards their reserve group of players comprising of Rishabh Pant, Ambati Rayudu and Axar Patel.
The batsman looks like a certainty to miss Chennai’s upcoming Qualifier 1 clash against Mumbai Indians at the Chepauk stadium which takes place on Tuesday.
Follow a disappointing 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign which saw Kolkata Knight Riders miss out on play-off qualification, assistant coach Simon Katich had admitted that the side deserved to finish where it did.
Needing a win in their final league fixture against Mumbai Indians on Sunday to book a play-off spot, Kolkata fell to a crushing nine-wicket defeat at the Wankhede stadium to crash out of the tournament with a fifth-place finish.
Speaking after the game, a disappointed Katich said, “It did go wrong, that’s for sure.”
“Today is obviously disappointing but it’s a tough ask coming to Mumbai, we don’t obviously have great record here.
“Yes, it would have been great to win today and get through but to finish where we did is probably what we deserved given how our season went.”
Having started the season in blazing style with four victories in five games, Dinesh Karthik and his men fell away dramatically after going on a six-match losing streak. Katich rued the side’s costly home defeats to Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals in particular as he looked back on a disappointing campaign.
“We had a very good start but it fell away badly through that middle phase of the tournament,” he said.
“If you look back on our season, the two missed opportunities we had were in the matches against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. We hadn’t played well through the season but to lose those two games was always going to come back and hurt us in the end.
“When you look back in the end, that’s what probably catches up with you, when you don’t win at home, where that wicket suits our style of play, particularly our batsmen, given how flat it’s been.”