Chennai Super Kings (CSK) coach Stephen Fleming was a proud man after his team thrashed Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 27 runs to clinch the IPL 2021 title in Dubai on Friday (October 15).
Invited to bat first, CSK piled a massive 192/3 in their allotted 20 overs and then restricted KKR to 165/9. With this victory, Chennai also became the second IPL franchise after Mumbai Indians (5) to win the cash-rich tournament four times.
Speaking after the game, Fleming decoded the secret of his team’s success, stating that they rely more on gut feel and interpersonal relationships rather than delving too deep into analytics and numbers.
“There was criticism about the age of our squad but it’s rewarding to finish the four-year cycle with the trophy,” Fleming said at the post-match press conference.
“Experience is important, guys who have been there and done it before add so much. We don’t get too deep into analytics and numbers, we go with gut feel and developing relationships with players. It’s old school but it works for us.”
According to Fleming, all the four IPL titles are special but the current one holds greater significance as it was won by a side, which was written off at the start of the tournament due to last year’s performance.
Notably, CSK had failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in IPL history during the 2020 edition of the tournament in UAE.
“It is very hard to rank them (the titles). It is also special because you work so hard and the result of a lot of hard work, so they (the titles) are all very special,” Fleming said.
“I think, the one win in 2018, coming back, was very emotional but there is a lot of hard work in this one. I don’t think a lot of people had any hopes from us to be able to maintain our competitiveness during this cycle. We were pretty much written off.
“So, there is little bit of satisfaction around that and a lot of pride in what the players have been able to achieve and maintain the standards over a number of months and that was a challenge for an ageing side. I am really proud about what they did and in the way they played,” he added.
Fleming also hinted that there will be a few changes in the squad next year with the mega auction due to take place ahead of IPL 2022.
“There is emotion around, I think when you get to an end of a cycle, you are not going to get some players back, so there (was) some emotions around these last games. When you win it, it is celebration and also recognition of what players have put in,” he said.
“Chennai always had a system or belief that you maintain players and keep them with you for a long period of time, you get the best out of them. There are some players that have been with us for a long time.
“It will be interesting to see over the next few months how it pans out but most teams are probably going to have a bit of change to them.”
Stephen Fleming also showered rich praise on opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, who finished as the top run-getter this season with 635 runs from 16 innings.
“Yeah, I do (see him as the next star of Indian cricket). He (Ruturaj) is an absolute superstar already in my eyes. When we introduced him last year, people were little bit critical but we (had) such high expectations from him.
“We are really delighted that he finished off the season so well. He is a wonderful kid,” said Fleming.
“His craft this year, he mastered opening batting. With him and Faf (Du Plessis) to score that many runs, it’s one of the real reasons we won the IPL.”