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CSK will keep working on project Hangargekar: Fleming

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Last updated on 01 Apr 2023 | 03:50 AM
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CSK will keep working on project Hangargekar: Fleming

Stephen Fleming also insisted that there’s been a big improvement in the all-rounder over the last year

There was a huge cry last year when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) did not try out the exciting all-rounder, Rajvardhan Hangargekar. The 20-year-old is heralded as the next big thing, with his ability to bowl thunderbolts and hit some meaty blows with the bat. But Stephen Fleming and the management during IPL 2022, said they didn’t want to ‘mess around’ with his talent. 

On Friday (March 31), CSK took the careful jump of integrating the all-rounder into the setup, and the youngster responded with some thunderbolts. During his four-over spell, Hangargekar looked like a real talent, with a spell reading of 3/36. He was arguably CSK’s best bowler on the night, and Fleming insisted that they would continue to work closely on ‘Project Hangargekar’. 

“There’s been a big improvement. His (Hangargekar) First-Class work has been more consistent, but there are still areas where he needs to work on. But keep in mind, playing your debut in front of 100,000 people is a big ask, and he did well,” Fleming said in the post-match press conference. 

“There were some lapses there but to get the reward and wickets, that’s big. We are careful about how we introduce players, they get discarded soon. We like to make sure that they have the tools to handle pressure. Is he a finished product? No, but we will keep working on him.”

Hangargekar wasn’t the only Maharashtrian to shine on the night, with Ruturaj Gaikwad putting on a show with the bat. CSK’s opener even threatened to score a 100 before a full-toss ended his stay at the crease, in a period where the four-time champions slumbered. 

“We thought we were a little bit short. Ruturaj played a great hand but around him, we couldn’t capitalise. They bowled well from 12-16 overs, but we couldn’t get the final push. 180 is a good score but we were in a position to get to 190-200,” Fleming added.

“They pulled it back well and we were probably a match underdone. Guys are still getting into the tempo. I love the aggression, and on any other day, we would get to 200.”

Fleming also hailed Gaikwad as an ‘outstanding talent’ and wished only good things for the opener, while crediting his knock for being a major part of CSK’s batting success on the night. 

“He’s (Gaikwad) an outstanding talent, we rate him so highly. He’s just an absolute class player, he has power and touch and only good things could happen to him. Tonight was an exhibition, and he was disappointed, he could have kicked on and added 20 more runs but the 90 runs were a pleasure to watch.”

It was that familiar worry - bowling depth - that came back to bite the Super Kings. But Fleming reckoned that there were some options that skipper MS Dhoni could have used, including that of bowling Moeen Ali when a left-handed Sai Sudharsan was in the middle. 

“Tushar Deshpande was a little unlucky. Probably a question for the captain more than me, there were options but we didn’t quite use them. Moeen Ali for the left-hander,” he had to say on the bowling options. 

“We got five seam bowlers out, we got overseas players coming in, we didn’t start the way we wanted but it is a long journey. We will get stronger as players come into the squad. 

While batting coach, Michael Hussey said CSK’s marquee all-rounder, Ben Stokes won’t be available to bowl in the early half of the tournament, Fleming said that the English all-rounder is making steady progress, and might be deadly when he could also add his bowling calibre to his arsenal. 

“Stokes is progressing well. He had a fair amount of time between the last Test and the IPL opener. He had some medical work done on his knee, we want to do the right thing to make him 100% ready. He’s not there yet. We are making steady progress, and he feels really positive about his progress. And that’s a real big addition to the team when he starts bowling.

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