IPL 2021: Fleming backs Raina to perform well in upcoming games

Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming has played down the concerns over the form of experienced Suresh Raina, saying that southpaw has earned the leeway and also backed him to come good in the upcoming matches of IPL 2021.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by 6 wickets in match 44 of the IPL 2021 in Sharjah on Thursday and became the first team to seal a place in the playoffs of the ongoing league.

The three-time IPL champions have 18 points on the back of nine wins from 11 matches. However, Suresh Raina’s batting form is a concern for Super Kings.

The left-handed batsman had started the season with a 36-ball 54 against Delhi Capitals in Mumbai but since then has crossed 20 only once in nine innings. Overall, Raina has scored only 157 runs from 11 innings with 1 fifty.

“We’ve got a pretty clear role for him. He has got an optimal time that we want him to bat, and we’re afforded the luxury of having a player that can come in and be aggressive. So it’s just getting the timing right with that and managing the batters around him,” Fleming said about Raina in the post-match press-conference.

“We value his experience and we think he’s got a part to play through the middle, which is an area that we’ve identified we can make a strength. Suresh is an experienced player, who has earned a bit of leeway. I expect as the tournament goes on, his performances will improve,” he added.

Super Kings are the table-toppers and they would want to have a top-two finish, which will give them two shots at the final.

Head coach Fleming said that reaching the IPL playoffs early gives CSK an opportunity to manage the workload of certain players in the next couple of games, but there won’t be too many changes in the side.

“I’m not big on momentum, momentum can go just as quick as you have it,” he said. “So we’re not really talking about that. But what we probably have been afforded is the opportunity to just manage workloads a bit better. We’ve got a day and then we travel to Abu Dhabi, and then another day, another game,” the former Kiwi cricketer said.

“So we’ll certainly talk about how we can manage our players, making sure that we manage the team that played today and also the opportunities for guys who are on the fringe. So we’ve afforded that luxury now, but we won’t be too experimental,” he added.

MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings will next face Rajasthan Royals at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.