Kolkata, May 13 (IANS) Rising Pune Supergiants’ failure to win key moments in matches have cost them dearly in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), feels chief coach Stephen Fleming.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side has struggled in the competition winning just three out of their 11 games so far and are out of contention for a play-off berth.
“We can only talk about what could have been, that is what it is with most team who miss out on a semi-final spot. I am pleased that in every game we have been in competition. We are not a bad side, just that we haven’t been able to win key moments. We have taken all top teams to the last over, just that we came up short,” Fleming told reporters on Friday.
Asked what went wrong this season, the former New Zealand skipper said,” There were a number of things that went wrong. No excuses but four of first choice players were out of the team. That is unusual, I have never seen that happen before. We have had five last over finishes. If we could have got three of those it could have made a difference.
“These were genuine games we could have won. One of the challenges of having a new team is that it takes time to settle down, we missed a home ground as well. And we did not quite get across the line.”
One of the main problems Pune faced was injuries to key batsmen — South African pair of Kevin Pietersen and Faf du Plessis and the Australian duo of Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh.
Dhoni’s captaincy has been heavily criticised in the tourney, when Fleming was questioned about it he said: “People take a lot of interest in fortunes of teams. And over-analyse teams performances and individuals contributions. It has been a great challenge for MS to get the group together.
“You have to get to know people quickly and settle on the combinations. When you are a captain of a new franchise you need to push a lot hard. That’s not what MS has had to do with the Indian or the Chennai side. They both were settled units.”
One of many Dhoni’s criticisms was related to under-bowling experienced off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Fleming said it was because the bowlers upfront had failed to strike the early blows.
“We have not taken wickets at the top. Usually the spinners come in after your frontline bowlers have taken wickets but that did not happen.
“MS has some time not brought Ashwin thinking of the past, like Kohli plays him very well. He (Dhoni) has made some on-field calls. Ashwin is still very valued. He bowled a beautiful spell in the last game,” Fleming said.
Gujarat Lions — the other new franchise this season have fared extremely well but Fleming believes they would be nothing without their top four overseas players and said a comparison with his side is not fair.
“Gujarat have done well. Opening batters set up games. Take out their top four, (Aaron) Finch, (Dwayne) Bravo, (Brendon) McCullum and (Dwayne) Smith you will have holes. It is a major factor when you compare teams’ performances,” he stated.
The 43-year-old stated hopefully Pune would have a turnaround in fortunes in the next edition.
“Relationships help. Players are getting to know each other. I have watched Ishant (Sharma) over the years and he started off really well need to tweak a few things. RP Singh as well,” he said.
“I am happy now, we have a good core group of players. Some of India’s best bowlers (are with us). The test is now if they can reinvent themselves. Looking for better performance hopefully next year,” he said.