Having not played competitive cricket since the World Cup semi-final in July 2019, there were questions if Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain MS Dhoni’s fitness. However head coach Stephen Fleming has quashed those doubts, saying that the former India captain is fit as ever. Dhoni, who recently retired from international cricket will lead CSK in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 opener against defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) at Abu Dhabi on Saturday (September 19).
Talking about Dhoni, Fleming said, "It [Dhoni's training methods] has been no different," Fleming told CSK's official website.
"He's very fit and mentally he's been very engaged and determined. In some ways, the break can work for the experienced and older players that we have. MS is fresh and ready to go."
CSK who arrived in the UAE over a month before the tournament had hit a few roadblocks with a couple of coronavirus cases within the camp, which had delayed their training. The former New Zealand skipper however feels that the entire team has dealt with it quite admirably.
"We didn't get off to a great start, with some positive Covid-19 cases, but I think we dealt with it very well. We were calm around our approach, looked after the players and staff very well, and the rest of the players were calm in the hotel room. There was a bit of anxiety wanting to get out and train. It is what it is, and the players dealt with it very well. In hindsight, the amount of pre-season training that we've done up to now, and the extra few days in the room, was probably a blessing," Fleming said.
Talking about the first game of the tournament, Fleming said, "The first game is always full of anxiety, nerves and excitement, and CSK-MI has added extra excitement and pressure and we enjoy that. We've earned the right to play the first game by playing well last year, and given the way the final finished last year, it's nice to have another crack at MI. They are a very good side and it gives you a good gauge as to how the pre-season has gone and the areas that need improvement. You get a good idea after the first game as to where your team is sitting.”
Being the most experienced side comes with a lot of pressure and expectations. However, Fleming believes that it has helped CSK get over the line on a few occasions in crunch situations. "We've got experienced players, and experienced players identify key times and that's why they've done so well in their careers, that they can turn games, absorb pressure or just sum out the situation. That's what experience is about and that's why we value it so highly. And that's why we've been able to get over the line in so many close games because the key player has been one with a lot of experience," the CSK coach concluded.