Stephen Fleming is getting ready for yet another final with the Chennai Super Kings, marking the 10th time they have reached this stage in the 14 seasons of the IPL. Despite the reputation of being calm and composed, Fleming admitted that even the four-time champions are feeling nervous as they approach the IPL final.
The head coach doesn't consider it as the most terrible occurrence.
Fleming emphasizes the significance of the upcoming summit clash against the Gujarat Titans, calling it a major event. He acknowledges that the nature of the game remains the same, but the outcome holds great importance. It's difficult not to get caught up in the excitement and envision winning once more. Being able to contribute to a title victory is the team's primary objective and the reason they strive for success.
It can be really tough to control our excitement and focus on the present moment as we approach the end of the tournament. It's important to stay fully aware of what we need to do. Gujarat is a really strong team and they have been performing consistently throughout the competition. We shouldn't let our dreams run wild, but that's exactly why we've made it this far.
The feeling of excitement and nervousness that comes with performing on a grand stage gradually fades away. But it's actually a positive thing to experience. It's all about how you handle it. We have some talented individuals supporting us, and we're eagerly anticipating this new challenge. I think it's important to have a certain level of anxiety to bring out our best. The key lies in managing that feeling and quickly immersing ourselves in the game. That's our plan for tomorrow.
The Titans have a great opportunity ahead of them as they aim to become only the third team to successfully defend their IPL title. So far, only the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have accomplished this feat, but even they have managed to defend the title only once. The challenge is going to be really tough for the Titans, almost seemingly impossible," jokingly remarked Fleming. However, he also praised the team led by Hardik Pandya for their smart squad selection, acknowledging their ability to make the most of their resources.
Despite consistently reaching the finals, the Chennai Super Kings haven't had the best record in the ultimate showdown, winning only 4 out of 9 times. Their previous strategies and squad selection heavily relied on adapting to the slow and low tracks of Chennai, which might have hindered their ability to perform as effectively in neutral conditions. Interestingly, this time around, their adaptability to different conditions could be one of their strengths as they approach Sunday's match, as believed by Fleming.
We made excellent preparations in Chennai, but we did face some challenges adapting to different conditions during our away games," he admitted. "This year, we have a more well-rounded team, and we had to become that way. In the last qualifying game, I initially wanted to bowl, but it turned out that batting was the better decision. We struggled a bit to gauge the conditions accurately. However, our team is now versatile enough to deliver good performances regardless of the conditions. As we approach the final, we are not concerned about the conditions we'll encounter. We're not worried. Mentally, we are in a much better place than we were in the past.
Last season, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) finished ninth, but this time they made a remarkable turnaround in the IPL 2023. Despite not making many changes to their team, they performed exceptionally well and secured the second position in the closely contested league phase. They then defeated the table-topping Gujarat Titans in the Qualifier 1.
Stephen Fleming, the coach of CSK, shared some insights into the team's mindset and the factors behind their changes. He emphasised that in this competition, success and failure often come down to very small differences. Even though CSK ended up in the ninth position last season, when they reflect on the matches, they realize that there were several instances where the outcomes could have gone either way. Close finishes and outstanding performances play a crucial role in determining your position on the points table.
It's becoming increasingly intense as teams become more adept at selecting players and adapting to different playing conditions. This year's competition is no exception. It has been incredibly challenging facing each team.
Even during tough seasons, we have managed to recover. Part of our success lies in how we conclude a difficult season. We constantly seek out the positives and provide players with opportunities to improve in the following year. We don't simply dismiss it as a lost cause.
Also Read: CSK's Unstoppable Journey to 10th IPL Final
When a season goes well, there are many valuable lessons to be learned. However, the lessons become even more abundant when the season doesn't go as planned. We constantly strive to improve, understanding the challenges that come with reaching this level of performance. That's why we take pride in our track record of maintaining consistency over time. Regardless of whether we're in form or out of form, we've managed to deliver commendable performances.
The tournament presents its greatest challenge when you have to build a successful team, only to disband it and retain just four players. Despite these rules, we take great satisfaction in our ability to maintain consistency. It's a point of pride for us to look back on.
The success story of CSK can be largely attributed to their remarkable consistency. This consistency is evident in their player retention, as well as in their coaching and support staff. A key factor behind their achievements is the enduring partnership between MS Dhoni and Fleming, who have formed an exceptionally long-lasting captain-coach duo, a rarity in the game of cricket.
When discussing the success of their partnership, Fleming mentioned that having a superstar like Dhoni who excels in his role makes things much easier. Their partnership has allowed them to work together behind the scenes, providing advice and support whenever Dhoni requires it.
Some of the secrets to their success lie in maintaining continuity among the people involved, having unwavering belief in their players, and remaining calm under pressure. These qualities stem from Dhoni and are complemented by the rest of the team. Whenever they take the field, there is a strong sense of familiarity regarding their approach and the individuals involved in their efforts.
It's a big advantage to have a fast-paced turnaround. When you don't have to constantly learn about the coaching staff every year, you can get back into the swing of things much quicker. That's one of the reasons why we strive to maintain consistency. Instead of starting from scratch each year, we can build upon the existing foundation.
"I must say, being a part of CSK has been an absolute joy. I couldn't have asked for more than the opportunity to work with one of the greatest captains and players in the game. We're incredibly fortunate to have him leading the team. However, it's not just about him; we also enhance his abilities with the talent we have below. The players respond very positively to his guidance. It's a franchise that has a good feeling and a track record of success.
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