Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming has lamented the poor batting in the powerplay overs in the wake of the heavy defeat at the hands of Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier on Tuesday. Right from the first game of the season when they scored 16 for 1 in the powerplay against Royal Challengers Bangalore till their latest outing, the Super Kings have not quite managed to bat well in the first six overs.

In the ongoing season, the Super Kings have lost most number of wickets in the powerplay – 29 while scoring less than 40 runs at an average. In fact in 15 games this season, they have managed to score in excess of 50 on just two occasions. They continued to struggle against Mumbai Indians too as they lost their third game against the Mumbai-based outfit this season.

The likes of Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina and Shane Watson were back in the hut even before the end of the powerplay. By the time the sixth over ended, the Super Kings were reeling at 32 for 3. The defending champions just could not recover from those early setbacks and were eventually restricted to 131 for 4. In reply, Mumbai Indians chased down the total inside 19 overs to storm into the final.

Credits: IPL

Speaking at the end of the game, Stephen Fleming admitted that the team has been struggling to pace the innings. He said that while the team is doing things right in the middle and end overs, the start is just not going its way.

“Yeah it [pacing the innings] is tough. There’s the problem we’re finding – we’re so far behind in the powerplays. We’re doing things right from overs 6 to 20, the run rate today I think was 7 and [then] 10 [in the last six overs]. We’re getting the right runs there, [but] we are just finding ourselves behind in the powerplays,” said Stephen Fleming.

One of the reasons behind Super Kings’ struggles this season is the poor form of Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu – two of the biggest heroes of last year’s campaign. The inconsistency of the likes of Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina have only made things tougher. But the defending champions have persisted with the big names throughout the season and Fleming explained the rationale behind it.

“You’ve just got to back them. Two or three games out from the end of the season, we’re making decisions on players to get us through to the end.

“We sort of go the other way [of chopping and changing], trying to just back the player enough that their cycle will come. And if it runs out, then so be it. We can go back and analyse that we should have made the change five games ago. But if you make a change now in the finals and change the tactics, it just means that you haven’t had the right discussions leading up to this point.

Credits: BCCI

“And we just back players because they’re proven performers, doing all the right things, but it is just not working. This can be a cruel game, especially when you’re playing in conditions like this for over half the season. So we make quite balanced decisions or have quite robust discussions around it. And this year we’ve just backed the players we’ve got and will continue to do so,” said Fleming.

Super Kings, meanwhile, still have a chance to make it to the final. They will take on the winner of the eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals in the second qualifier.