Stephen Fleming © IANS
Stephen Fleming © IANS

Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming categorically dismissed perception that the franchise have vested on a bunch of “spent” players, by saying it’s the experience which he regards the most. Ever since IPL 2018 auction, CSK have been trolled from time to time for having majority of their players over 30 (MS Dhoni, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay and Dwayne Bravo). Nonetheless, Fleming nicely pointed out that only a handful of young players have set the stage on fire in their inaugural editions, and it has always been the experienced ones who play an important role.

“I’m not sure when a young player came out and was the top run-scorer. You get some exceptions, like Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) and Washington Sundar. But there’s only a handful, whereas experienced players play major parts in the whole tournament, so that’s why I value experience,” Fleming said on the eve of their match against Mumbai Indians on April 7 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

“There’s also about the quality of player, like (Dwayne) Bravo is still competing well, (Shane) Watson’s competing well, Harbhajan (Singh) has great skill sets and Dhoni is a fine leader. So the players we’ve picked, I don’t think they’re spent by any means. It’s a year-by year proposition and this year I think they look very good, the New Zealader asserted.

CSK have been readmitted to the tournament after a two-year hiatus faced due to spot-fixing scandal. On their comeback, Fleming was honest to point out that there are “lot of nerves around.” “I think we’ve prepared well. (It’s) just a lot of nerves around, but no more than normal. Players want to get into it and we’ve had the best part of 12 days leading into the competition. The general feeling is we’re just ready to go.

CSK played their last match against Mumbai Indians — in 2015 edition’s final — before serving the suspension period. They will resume the much-talked about rivalry with the defending champions in their own den on Saturday.

Fleming added, “It’s a great rivalry (CSK and MI) and this is what the competition needs. We couldn’t have asked for a better game to start with. A game of this intensity at this ground is always a thrill. So the players are excited about it.”

But Mumbai are a force to reckon with in their home conditions. Fleming acknowledged that good teams do well at home, and is up for the challenge. ”It’s hard to win just as we are also hard to beat in Chennai. And that’s an aspect of successful teams. They defend their home patch well. Great challenge for us to start, wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, said the former New Zealand skipper.

Confirming that South African captain Faf du Plessis won’t play tomorrow due to his finger injury, Fleming welcomed the introduction of DRS in IPL. ”DRS, if it’s used properly is positive. If it can help the game get the bad one right, then it’s a good thing, he concluded.