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IPL 2018: Stephen Fleming all praise for MS Dhoni despite CSK’s loss to KXIP

MS Dhoni scored a magnificent 79 not out in Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) narrow loss to Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in Mohali on Sunday in IPL 2018.

cricket Updated: Apr 16, 2018 11:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mohali
IPL 2018,MS Dhoni,Stephen Fleming
Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni plays a shot during the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL 2018) match against Kings XI Punjab at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on Sunday.(AFP)

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) may have lost the match on Sunday night but coach Stephen Fleming is proud of his team’s effort and the way they hung in there and took it to the very end.

Chasing yet another high score, CSK almost pulled it off with MS Dhoni (79 not out) leading from the front in the Indian Premier League (IPL) contest against the Kings XI Punjab. This would have been CSK’s third win while chasing after successfully overhauling 165 vs Mumbai Indians and 202 against Kolkata Knight Riders, both with a ball to spare.

READ | IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab’s Yuvraj Singh disappoints again vs Chennai Super Kings

Fleming praised Dhoni but said it was probably Chris Gayle’s knock that took the game away from CSK.

“We were hit hard by Gayle. He played really well. We thought we might be able to pick him up with him being a little bit rusty. We did incredibly well to restrict the score to somewhere under 200. The second half of our bowling during the innings was very good. We were able to get some wickets and create pressure. A score of 196 is still very high, but it’s a lot lower than what it could have been. I’m proud of the effort,” he said.

CSK didn’t have a great start with openers Shane Watson and Murali Vijay struggling for runs. With three quick wickets, at one point CSK were struggling at 56/3 in the 7th over. Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni then stitched a 57-run stand for the fourth wicket to get the chase back on track. Another 50-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja brought CSK back in the match.

“During the chase, we just hung in and as good as Gayle was at the start of their innings, Dhoni was good at the back end of ours. We were only one hit away from stealing another win. A great game of cricket, that ebbed and flowed, and two really good batting performances from two senior players,” Fleming added.

READ | IPL 2018: Chris Gayle hammers fiery 63 for Kings XI Punjab against Chennai Super Kings

Dhoni struggled with his back towards the end of chase but that didn’t stop him from completing his 34-ball half-century. With the equation boiling down to 17 off the last over, Mohit Sharma got in couple of good wide yorkers to steal a win for Punjab.

“When you’re chasing, you get certainty in an uncertain game. So you can manage your risk, like you saw MS (Dhoni) managing his almost to perfection. It was a couple of good yorkers from Mohit Sharma that denied us a win,” Fleming said.

Going ahead Fleming felt that although he is happy with the way the team has shown character to fight, there are still areas where they can improve.

READ | MS Dhoni blitz in vain as Kings XI Punjab seal IPL 2018 thriller against Chennai Super Kings

“I would love a game where we bowl a team out for 140 and then chase it down. But the competition is very even. Wickets at the top are important. We’ve seen teams do that. We’ve got to reassess that and make sure that we have the right combination. We’re not too far away. There are areas where we can improve. We have two wins out of three with injuries and a bit of drama surrounding our home, we will probably take that,” he concluded.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 10:47 IST