Stephen Fleming rues Ben Stokes’ absence after IPL 2017 final loss to Mumbai Indians

Rising Pune Supergiant fell agonisingly short by one run in the IPL 2017 final against Mumbai Indians and coach Stephen Fleming has rued the absence of an extra batsman in Ben Stokes for the big clash.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 22, 2017 18:13 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
IPL 2017,Mumbai Indians,Rising Pune Supergiant
Rising Pune Supergiant cricketer Ben Stokes left India before the IPL 2017 playoffs to be part of the England squad ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy.(AFP)

Rising Pune Supergiant coach Stephen Fleming has rued the absence of talismanic England all-rounder Ben Stokes after the team’s quest to secure their first IPL title were dashed in agonising fashion with a one-run loss to Mumbai Indians in the final of IPL 2017 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal on Sunday.

Speaking in the post-match press conference, Fleming said, “We were a batsman short with Ben Stokes not being part. We were playing an extra bowler and were aware of it when chasing 130. The best way to have gone about the chase was to build a couple of partnerships. We saw Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane come close to doing that but we lost wickets at key times and it kept Mumbai Indians in the game,” Fleming said.

READ | Mumbai Indians beat Rising Pune Supergiant, become 3-time champions with IPL 2017 win

Stokes’ all-round exploits were one of the big factors in the team’s success in IPL 2017. His 316 runs at an average of 31.6 and 12 wickets gave Rising Pune Supergiant immense momentum. However, after the last league game against Kings XI Punjab, the England all-rounder had to leave for national duties as his team prepared for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy.

Asked whether it would have been beneficial for Stokes to have played this game rather than train with the team, Fleming stated, “There are gains by being together as a side. You also relish the opportunities to play finals in pressure situations. You learn a lot. We would have loved having Stokes for the full time but we knew he would not be there throughout. We did not spend too much time lamenting that. From his point of view, he would have loved this situation. He is a big game player.”

READ | For Rising Pune Supergiant, sadly it wasn’t a fairytale finish: Steve Smith

Failed to capitalise on key moments

Rahane and Smith had shared a 54-run stand for the second wicket and had put Rising Pune Supergiant on course. However, Rahane’s departure for 44 slowed the run-rate down and Mumbai Indians managed to concede just 12 runs in the next three overs.

Fleming reckoned that the team’s inability to kill the game off turned the course of the match. “We knew Mumbai Indians have top class bowlers. We fell behind a couple of times. We lost wickets at key times. We could not kill the game. They just hung in and created pressure which allowed them to get over the line.”

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Environment where players excel

Although they came up short in the IPL final, Rising Pune Supergiant have had a remarkable run in this edition. The team threw up some great talents in the form of Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar and Jaydev Unadkat. Fleming said that he was proud of everything the team had achieved despite the loss.

“We are not a skilled side in the IPL. In this campaign, we have had some players stand up from nowhere. We take real pride in that. We have created an environment where some players excel. Jaydev has been extraordinary, so has been Rahul Tripathi and Tiwary. Big stars have stepped up at key times,” Fleming said.

First Published: May 22, 2017 09:09 IST