Fleming plays down pitch factor

MS Dhoni

Coach Stephen Fleming, however, has a different story to tell. He takes pride in the fact that at the IPL IV auction, the Super Kings picked players with the conditions in mind, and not the other way round.

“I have gone on record as saying it’s hard to read the Chennai pitch, but at this time of the year, there’s not really that much they can do to it,” the former Kiwi skipper observed. “What we have picked is a side for these conditions, and we are very proud of that -- that we were smart enough to pick a side that would compete well at home.

“There will be some advantage because we have become conditioned,” Fleming added, looking ahead to Saturday’s final. “I can’t see there being much variation (in character) based on the amount of cricket played on the pitches. I think we will be back on the pitch that we played all our cricket on this season. I expect it to be pretty similar. But there have been some differences in that – the scores reflect that, from 170s down to 140s, it’s still challenging.”

A return to their bastion for the final has thrilled the coach no end. “We talked during the season about respecting our home conditions,” Fleming observed. “We certainly don’t take it for granted. We are going to have to work equally as hard because the team we will have to play in the final will up the ante now and they know they have got to play well to beat us at home. It’s nice to be back at home, we have felt comfortable here this year and we have played good cricket here. So if you wanted to play the final, it’d certainly be here for us.”

To have come away unscathed from Qualifier 1 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and taken the ‘easier’ route to the final meant a lot, Fleming revealed. “It’s a huge relief. The word relief has been used a couple of times in the context of the final so far,” he went on. “We felt that we had to get up for that game, otherwise playing back-to-back games was going to be very tough in Chennai.

“We knew that if we did come back to Chennai, it was going to be a little more in our favour but we were desperate to win that game. The character of our batting towards the end showed just how desperate we were to get a few days off because energy, holding your nerve, taking that energy on to the field, that is going to be very important come finals day,” Fleming added.

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