IPL 2019 | Fleming Admits 'Massive Effort' to Lift Team in Dhoni Absence

Stephen Fleming, Chennai Super Kings head coach, admitted that losing MS Dhoni for any game leaves a huge hole but insisted that even without him the side has it in them to compete and win games.

Dhoni missed Friday's encounter at MA Chidambaram Stadium against Mumbai Indians which the home side lost by 46 runs. They had lost an earlier encounter against Sunrisers Hyderabad as well when Dhoni sat out due to back spasms.

"Dhoni is a great leader and a great player, so whenever you take him out of your side and he has been a constant for us for so many years, you just get into the rhythm of having him there. When you take a leader like that out, there are going to be some holes to fill and it's not that we are not trying to fill it, just that the hole is quite big," said Fleming at the post-match press conference.

"It takes a massive effort to lift the team up when you have your best player unavailable. But we are good enough to do that."

On a surface where batting was a tough task, Chennai, fielding first conceded 155/4 with Rohit Sharma slamming 67 in just 48 balls. The hosts then never really got their chase going as they lost wickets at regular intervals. Only three of their batsman got to double figures with M Vijay, playing his first game of the season top-scoring with 38 as Chennai were bowled out for 109 in 17.4 overs.

"Look, batting wise we lost wickets consistently throughout and the pitch had enough in it to cause problems if you kept losing wickets," said Fleming on Chennai's no-show with the bat. "The partnership upfront between Rohit and (Evin) Lewis was quite important. If we had kept taking wickets it might have been 135-140.

"We did well to drag it to 155, but we needed partnerships at the top to minimise the effect of their spinners but we didn't get that. It wasn't our day really. Things did not go our way, we didn't do enough to make them go our way."

Another talking point this season has been the recurring failures of Kedar Jadhav. The 34-year-old has so far managed just 162 runs in 12 outings at an average of 20.25. More alarming has been his strike-rate that stands at only 96.42.

With the World Cup just a month away, Jadhav's form will give both Chennai and the Indian team management a headache but Fleming was confident the right-hander will turn his season around soon.

"He would like more himself. He is obviously building towards the World Cup well so the expectation there is he plays a key role. We need a little bit more from him," said Fleming on Jadhav. "We sort of had him for a finishing role, the ability to manipulate the field but he is good enough to play an anchor role as well.

"He's disappointed he has not made most of these opportunities as a number of our players are. The fact that we are losing that many wickets this year suggests that most of our players are searching for form.

"I will stress again that these conditions are hard to really gauge whether you are in form or not because it is hard to understand how the track is going to play. The last game was the best it has played for some time and Shane Watson made the most of it but today was tricky for all and they dealt with it a lot better than us. But yep, If we are going to win it, we need him to produce a bit more."

Fleming was also pretty adamant that there was no need for any changes in the Chennai team despite the defeat. Asked if the management would look at giving the non-performing players a rest for some newer guys that have been on the sidelines for a while, Fleming said that experience counts and that they would not be going to hand out caps just for the sake of it.

"It is not a charity, you don't hand out games, you need to earn games. These guys are good players but they are sitting on the fringes for a reason. They are making their way in domestic cricket and they have got great skills but sometimes you can get caught up with how they play in the nets," Fleming retorted.

"Experience counts a lot for me so that's why I make no apologies to the young players that are coming through. They have got to earn their rights to play with us. It has been a formula, you can say has been successful for a number of years and I'll stress again if you chop and change and you don't have a basis for why you are selecting players you can end up in a muddle.

"We are not going to hand out caps just because part of the press thinks that the team needs change."

Rahul Chahar, the young Mumbai leg-spinner, said that losing the toss in some ways helped the side.

"This was a pretty important match and win for us," said Chahar. "Shane Watson's wicket was very crucial for us considering the form he is in. It was a good toss to lose though the wicket remained the same in the second innings as well.

"Rohit's form has been very important. He is one player who can single-handedly win a game for us."

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