Chennai Super Kings have played their first two matches in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Having won one game, the opener against Mumbai Indians, they head into their third fixture against Delhi Capitals with some questions over their team composition. Stephen Fleming, the head coach, spoke to the Super Kings website about the challenges his side faces ahead of the Friday's clash in Dubai.
On their bowl-first approach in the first two matches
"In our case, it has been that we are not sure. We look at it as almost safety-first so we get an understanding of what the wickets are going to be like. Both games that we've played so far have been the first games of the tournament, in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, and to get a feel of the conditions we thought bowling first was the best way to go. It does seem to be a trend, but bowling first is a bit of an advantage with the dew [setting in later]."
On finding the ideal balance given many players have been out of the game for over a year
"One of the biggest challenges is to find the right combinations. Also to give the guys some match play, keeping in mind we've got a number of players who haven't played for 12 months. We are working hard on a number of fronts, one is to get the right team for the conditions that we've been unsure about, and also to get the guys up to speed with their playing form. You can do as much practice and training as you like, but it doesn't completely replicate what happens in the middle. So it was always going to be an interesting start for us. I think we'll take one from one with a lot of areas to improve."
On Dhoni's batting position
In both their games so far, he's batted at No. 7. In the first game, he faced just three balls. In the second, he struggled for timing, and only managed to bring out the big hits after the match was beyond their reach.
"MS is one of the players that hasn't played much cricket in the last year-and-a-half. Everyone expects MS to come out and do what he has done in the past. It doesn't just happen, it takes a bit of work and a part of his process of getting up to speed is his game time and that (match against Rajasthan Royals) was really the first time that he'd batted in the middle apart from a couple of balls against Mumbai Indians. As the tournament goes on, he'll just get better and better. To come in and expect him to get a 30-ball 70 would be a tough ask. We've other players also who are in good form and can do a job. So, it's valuing what each player can do and also respecting Dhoni is one of a kind when he's in form and has been playing."
On boosting Lungi Ngidi's confidence after a poor final over against the Royals
The South Africa fast bowler started the tournament with a three-wicket haul, but conceded 56 in his four overs against Royals. The last over, in particular, went for 30, with Jofra Archer hitting him for four sixes.
"It will certainly hit Lungi's confidence hard. The key thing for us is just for him to get better and analyse what he didn't quite get right and make sure that the next time he's in that opportunity he is better than what he was the last time. It doesn't matter whether he goes for 30 or five or 10. Trying to get better all the time is what's important. We've got one of the best death bowlers in the game in our squad and already Dwayne Bravo has been alongside him. We'll use the experience in the team to make sure he is okay and looks forward to the next opportunity he gets."
On when Ambati Rayudu and Bravo are likely to be back from niggles.
"Rayudu is our in-form player and to lose him at that time (against Royals) was disappointing. Hopefully, it's only a couple of games. We've got a six-day break after this (Friday's match against Capitals), and we are hoping that he'll be back for the game on October 2 (against Sunrisers Hyderabad).
"Bravo is progressing very well, and if he has a couple of good days of training, he could come into selection consideration for the next game. That would be a good headache for us to have as we're looking to introduce players and also get our best combination for the rest of the tournament. You don't necessarily pick your final-winning side in the first two or three games, but as soon as you can settle and get some cohesion into the team you are better off for, and that's what we are working towards now, giving new players opportunity and then settle."