Rebuilding CSK ahead of next IPL season a ‘great fun’ challenge, team to be a mix of youth and old: Stephen Fleming

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As a first, three-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings crashed out of the IPL 2020 before the playoffs, for the first time in the history of the league. CSK, led by captain MS Dhoni, were the first to be knocked out of the IPL 2020 contention.

On Sunday, November 1, Chennai Super Kings played their last IPL 2020 game against the Kings XI Punjab and emerged victorious, hence finishing their run in the season on a positive note. CSK head coach Stephen Fleming didn’t seem to have a good mood throughout the season. He even dared to say “this team may have run out of juice” about CSK.

But after CSK royally exited from the IPL, on Sunday, after a 3-match winning streak, Fleming seemed positive about the team’s next season. It was also on the same day as MS Dhoni promised to return donning the CSK jersey and said ‘definitely not’ to IPL retirement.

"It's a great challenge. It's great fun and there's responsibility around it, but when you get the likes of Ruturaj [Gaikwad] come through and some of the players getting the mix of youth and old,” Fleming said at the post-match press conference after the 9-wicket win over KXIP.

"We go back to the same team which Mr. Srinivasan and CSK picked and how right they got it. We're looking to do the same if we can get a decade of consistent cricket from a side, you're doing something right. So, we're tapping into that and yeah there's big responsibility. Teams now and squads are a lot smarter and they really want what they want, so talent is at a premium. But, it's one of the challenges... good and exciting challenges of being involved with an IPL side,” Fleming spoke of rebuilding the side.

Further on, Fleming uphled the 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad, who scored three fifies in a row to end his season, a "big candidate" for the Super Kings going ahead.

"No, we couldn't play him earlier, in fact we played him too early. Covid really knocked him around, we knew how good he was from the time we've had in the last two years; the pre-season [camp] in Chennai was outstanding. One of the disappointments was obviously he got sick and the fact that it hung around for so long, people underestimated what it does to a player physically and mentally,” Fleming explained why CSK couldn’t get Gaikwad earlier.

"We tried to get him into the game really early on, looking back probably it was too soon, so it wasn't effective. We might have pushed him in too quickly and he wasn't quite ready physically and he got outweighed a little bit - some doubts were cast and just got to work with him in net practice and limited practice matches, but we always had in mind he was going to be a key player."

CSK finishing on an up is a testament to the players respecting the jersey: Fleming

"We hung tough as a group. Obviously in the bubble, we spent a lot of time together and when things aren't going well in the IPL, it can get a bit toxic. But the players - every one of them - were incredibly committed to what we were trying to do. Some were getting opportunities and some weren't which again is the nature of the IPL.

We were finishing on an up is a testament to the players more than anything that they were still committed to respecting the jersey and franchise and finished the tournament well so that we can look back and say 'what if' rather than 'what next'. We've got too many fans as well relying on us to do well and we have an obligation to do that. The players were in a good enough space and tough to repay that," Fleming concluded.

CSK's performances in 13 editions of the IPL

2008: IPL Runners Up (Lost Final to Rajasthan Royals)

2009: Qualified for playoffs eventually finishing in third place

2010: IPL Champions

2011: IPL Champions

2012: IPL Runners Up (Lost Final to Kolkata Knight Riders)

2013: IPL Runners Up (Lost Final to Mumbai Indians)

2014: Qualified for playoffs eventually finishing in third place

2015: IPL Runners Up (Lost Final to Mumbai Indians)

2016: Did not play

2017: Did not play

2018: IPL Champions

2019: IPL Runners Up (Lost Final to Mumbai Indians)

2020: Knocked out before playoffs

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