Almost after a decade, the battle still continues between former India captainSourav Ganguly and former Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming.
Captain Sourav Ganguly lost his first final to Stephen Fleming in Nairobi, 2000-01. Although it is still remembered for the stupendous efforts of an injured Chris Cairns who single-handedly won the match for the Kiwis, the battle of wits between two thinking captains began from that ICC Knockout final.
Almost after a decade, the battle still continues. This time, the battle was fought at the home ground of Sourav. Yet, he lost it again to another injured performer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The only difference is, Fleming is not playing the game, physically. He is the mentor of the Chennai team and riding on MSD’s performance, once again, he has beaten Sourav fair and square.
It was termed as a battle between the Chennai batsmen and Kolkata bowlers. Sourav had said earlier that he was excited about the day when he would start his bowling attack with Shane Bond and Ishant Sharma. The day finally reached. And Kolkata were cruising along when, after 14 overs, Chennai was restricted to 81 for 3.
But, in the last six overs, they had scored 83 runs to push Kolkata on the backfoot.
“Yes, we were targeting a score of 135-145 at that stage when we actually finished at 164. And then we had two of their in-form batsmen within the first nine deliveries, their third within the first five overs. It does not win us the match there, but yes, it helped us to go a little ahead. The bowlers bowled really well, according to the plan. They were spot on”, said Fleming at the post-match press conference.
Speaking about his captain, the coach was overwhelmed. Just a few days back, Dhoni had a marvellous win at the Eden Test against South Africa. And now he has beaten Sourav’s Kolkata. Said Fleming, “He is in love with not only the Eden Gardens but also many grounds all over the world! I am really fortunate to work with a superb captain. In pressure situations, his composure is second to none.”
However, he was a bit concerned about MSD’s hand that received a blow on the right forearm from a Shane Bond express delivery at the 13th over of the innings. “An X-ray would be done to see whether it is only a bruise or something else. Hope everything’s well.”
But was he disappointed with Matthew Hayden’s performances?
“No no, not at all. Matty had played only two matches and in T20, there is no such thing like form. So, I am happy with his efforts as well as with Suresh Raina. I am happy with everyone. We are excited rather than being concerned. We had played only two games and beating Kolkata in their home by a handsome margin gives us more confidence. We planned and we executed it on the field.”
For him it was a “different win”. He continued, “We usually win with power and gusto. But this time it was subtle. Normally we score heavily in the Power plays. But today we did the reverse. We ran hard in the middle overs and exploded at the death. Our boys paced the innings very well. The adjustments were beautifully done. The bowlers got the ball in the right places and created a lot of pressure.”
A captain wearing his thinking cap from the coach with the same responsibilities, how was he enjoying the transformation? For Fleming, to be associated with a team like Chennai is a good opportunity. “It’s nice, I am relaxed. Enjoying my role with formulating strategies. Players of this generation are better athletes. They are strong, want to play their cricket fast. Really good to work with them.”
Chennai has an important match on Friday against Delhi in Delhi. “It is always a challenge to beat Delhi in Delhi. They are in good nick, playing really well. But that’s the challenge of this tournament. We have two more days to plan it.”
Chennai coach was a little bit disappointed with his team’s first performance a couple of days earlier. He was happy to stop Kolkata’s winning streak. Now, his team has to do the same in Delhi on Friday.