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IPL 2021: CSK head coach Stephen Fleming on challenges of split tournament

Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming (right) on challenges of split IPL 2021

Dubai, Septeber 19: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) head coach Stephen Fleming has said it will be a unique challenge going into the tournament that has been split into two halves as the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season resumes on Sunday (September 19).

The IPL 2021 season, which was suspended earlier this year in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, moves to UAE and will resume with a blockbuster clash between CSK and Mumbai Indians at the Dubai International Stadium in Dubai.

CSK are currently at the second spot in the points table and well-placed to reach the play-off stages, but the head coach Fleming felt the team will have to start afresh like a new tournament altogether.

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"It's a unique challenge to have a tournament split in half. So, we just want to start well again but also remembering the work that it took to get a bit of form and those wins. It's all about the mindset, people coming together and almost treating it like a fresh start for another tournament," Fleming told CSK TV.

CSK were given a boost ahead of the second phase opener as players from Carribean Premier League and some from International assignments joined camp after completing their isolation.

Fleming was excited with the likes of Faf du Plessis, Dwayn Bravo, Moeen Ali, Shardul Thakur, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja joining the main group ahead of Mumbai Indians clash.

"There are guys coming in from the CPL and International cricket and that's the beauty of the IPL, they come with great experience and tie them all together. I'm really happy with the work that is being done here. I'm looking forward to it," he added.

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When the 48-year-old was asked about how new players have adjusted within the group, he said: "The style of play, the way the new players adjusted into the side and then getting a game plan that suits the players and the balance that we had.

"So, that was by design...which is always nice when it comes off. The way we batted and the aggressive nature in which we batted and took the opposition on and that was something that was lacking in the first half in Dubai last time. The confidence through that was good and the all-round balance was good to see."

Mumbai Indians have beaten CSK 19 times in 31 meetings so far in IPL and in the most recent outing, Rohit Sharma-led side defeated Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men by 4 wickets thanks to Kieron Pollard's 34-balls knock of 87.

And talking about the rivalry between MI and CSK, Fleming spoke about the reverse fixture, but said his team will be up and ready for another challenge against the reigning champions.

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"We finished the first half of phase 1 with a loss where Pollard played one of the great IPL innings. Mumbai do play well against us, so we got to keep lifting our standards.

"From a coaching point of view, you want that game underway so that you know what to work on and just exactly where the team's at. So, we're looking forward to it as always and it's a good encounter."

Before the IPL 2021 was suspended, three teams were storming ahead in the race to reach the playoffs - Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

While these three teams are all very likely to reach the play-offs as they currently occupy the top three spots in the points table. Rishabh Pant-led DC has 12 points from 8 games and the side needs to win two more matches to cement a playoff spot.

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CSK and RCB have 10 points each from seven games and they need to win three more out of their remaining seven matches to reach the play-off stage.

The other team joining the three seems like five-time champions Mumbai Indians, who are currently fourth with 8 points from seven matches followed by Rajasthan Royals, who have 6 points from 7 matches, while Punjab Kings, who also have 6 points from 8 matches take the sixth spot.

Meanwhile, seventh-placed Kolkata Knight Riders and bottom-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad have 4 and 2 points on the board having played seven matches.

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Story first published: Sunday, September 19, 2021, 11:18 [IST]
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