Chennai: Having crashed to a humiliating eight-wicket defeat against Mumbai Indians in the IPL opener, Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming said they were done in by the lack of knowledge about the new home wicket at the M Chidambaram Stadium.
"It is little bit different. We are used to winning games and knowing the conditions we were playing on. We, like Mumbai, were little bit unsure how the pitch was going to play. And that took away the element of home advantage we have enjoyed for some time. That is not an excuse, it is a fact," he said in the post-match press conference.
However, the former Kiwi skipper said that his side had gained more knowledge of the wicket and would be looking to adjust their game plan.
"We're watching and learning as much as we could. But obviously the result showed we didn't learn quickly enough. One of the positives that has come out today is we have got more knowledge going forward. That may have a bearing on our team selection and also the way we plan," he explained.
Fleming also said that the team was working on getting the right combination for the conditions here and would go back to the drawing board and emerge unbeatable at home as they were in the past two seasons.
"This pitch has different character than what we had seen. We have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a style. So we are under pressure at home to find a style that makes us the tough team to beat again. And we will do it. It is very important to win your home games."
Fleming though was quick to point out that it was not only the wicket that contributed to the loss after the Super Kings were bundled out for a meagre 112 after put into bat.
"We were rusty. I think boys showed glimpses of form and glimpses of the Chennai that you know. We were losing wickets at regular intervals. We just did not allow ourselves opportunity to get partnerships," he admitted.
Stating that there were three run outs, including the first one involving F du Plessis in the first over, were crucial, Fleming said: "They certainly didn't help and Mumbai fielded very well. By half-way point we were little bit behind with the wickets we lost after what was a solid start.
"And you would think we were looking at 150-160 may be more. Certainly the way they bowled and some of the shots we played allowed pressure to creep up."
The coach replied in the positive when asked whether the team has got the right options for the conditions here.
"We got options because we bat so low. We have got all-rounders, seamers so we can look at using them going forward. We have got pretty much all the basics covered. It is now just the understanding who is going to be the most effective on the wicket," explained Fleming.
"Today we went for safety first. We looked at players who perform for us and the combinations we had used in the past. We will go back and analyse what was effective and what wasn't," he added.
The Chennai team missed the services of opener Mike Hussey, who is doing national duty for Australia in the West Indies and set to join the side later this month, and Fleming agreed that the Aussie's role was crucial.
"You can't replace Mike Hussey. We are not trying to replace Hussey. But Faf Du Plessis has been one of the fine players in world cricket. He was run out today," said Fleming.
Defending the changes in the batting order, he said, "We believe that as a team if we did the same things we did in the last couple of years things will overtake us. So we are always trying to do better. The introduction of new players helps that enthusiasm. Once we get the pattern sorted and get the rhythm we will be a much better side."
From 75 for two at one stage to losing the rest of the wickets for the addition of just 32 runs raised questions on whether Chennai were too defensive as compared to the explosive stuff dished out by Mumbai Indians' South African opener Richard Levi who cracked 50 off 30 balls, Fleming said: "No when you set a total you are always going to be little bit more circumspect.
"Richard Levi looked like he had a free licence and that is the way he plays. When you chase 100 runs it doesn't really matter. So I wouldn't engage too much on that."
He also brushed aside suggestion that Dhoni should have come ahead of Albie Morkel.
"No. Not at all. We don't do that in our side. That has been the recipe to our success. We talk a lot during the game with the skipper. The skipper looks at the situation where he wants to bat. It is not all about MS all the time. We have other players who are capable of taking the load of him, which certainly has been one of our strengths as well."
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