February 24 2020
Watson appears the best bet to partner Vijay
03 April 2018

Fleming says Dhoni will bat higher up the order

Who will partner Murali Vijay at the top of the order for Chennai Super Kings? There are several options before the side.

Vijay remains the lone specialist opener in the squad and in the early years of CSK, he walked out with a certain Matthew Hayden.

The Australian was as imposing as they come and did form a potent left-right combination with Vijay. The pair, with contrasting methods, laid the platform for many CSK victories.

This time around too, an Australian could be Vijay’s companion as the beginning of the innings. Although not a regular opener, Shane Watson has, on occasions, been destructive up the order for Australia and in franchise cricket. He is a compelling striker of the ball.

South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, a converted opener for CSK in the past, has had his share of successes too against the new ball. He can be explosive when he switches gears.

Then, there is Sam Billings of England, a fluent striker of the ball who has doubled up as an opener in the shorter formats. Watson, however, appears the best bet.

CSK coach Stephen Fleming comprehends his batsmen have to make the most of the PowerPlay overs at the start and then consolidate. The openers will be critical to his strategy.

He said, “We have players, who can adapt, play different roles. Even someone like [Ambati] Rayudu can open.”

Then, there is the M.S. Dhoni factor in a powerful CSK middle-order. And Dhoni, according to Fleming, will bat higher up the order this time round. “He [Dhoni] will have a more prominent role as a batsman.”

Spin too, with a blend of finger and wrist spinners, is an area of strength for CSK. Fleming was particularly pleased with the presence of Harbhajan Singh.

Asked about the replacement for the injured Mitchell Santner, Fleming responded, “We are not in a hurry. Initially, [Ravindra] Jadeja had a fitness concern and Santner was taken as a left-arm spin cover. But we are looking at him as a three-year investment.”

Domestic pace bowling is an area of concern for CSK — there is a lack of experience here — but Fleming saw potential in the young seamers.

He also felt the more senior Indian pacemen such as Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar, both could be given a role in the Death overs, “will need to find consistency in their performances.”

The overseas pacemen, however, promise speed and thrust. Fleming observed, “Lungi Ngidi performed well against India and his style of bowling will suit our plans. And Mark Wood, with his skiddy trajectory, is sharp.”



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