IPL 2023: MS Dhoni not going to be as quick and nimble as he was 15 years ago, says Stephen Fleming

IPL 2023: Ahead of the game, there were question marks about Dhoni playing in the opener match on Friday due to a knee injury but the 41-year old shrugged it off to lead the side.

IPL 2023: After a five-wicket loss at the hands of Gujarat Titans in the IPL opener at Ahmedabad, Chennai Super Kings Head Coach Stepehn Fleming said that expecting MS Dhoni to be as quick as he was at the peak of his career wouldn’t be fair.

Ahead of the game, there were question marks about Dhoni playing in the opener match on Friday due to a knee injury but the coach clarified that it was just cramps and not a knee injury.

“He was always playing. Not sure where that story came from. He was nursing a sore knee throughout the month of pre-season, but today it was just cramps, it wasn’t the knee,” Fleming said in the post-match press conference.

“He’s not going to be as quick and nimble as he was 15 years ago, but he is still a great leader of the side and, even with the bat, he is still going to play a part. He knows his limitations and he is a valuable player to have on the field. He is a legend, isn’t he?,” he added.

The 41-year-old has been a vital cog in the CSK side since the inception of the IPL, with Chennai winning four titles.

Fleming also looked impressed by debutant fast bowler Rajvardhan Hangargekar. The 20-year-old finished with a record of 4-0-36-2 and became the fourth-youngest debutant for CSK. Wriddhiman Saha, Sai Sudharsan, and Vijay Shankar were among the victims of the young pacer.

“There has been some big improvement. His first-class work has been a lot more consistent. There are areas he still needs to work on till you are comfortable. Playing in front of 100 thousand people on your debut is a big ask. He did well, but there were some lapses, which is going to come with a young player. But getting a game and getting some wickets under his belt is huge for him,” Fleming added.

Speaking about Ruturaj Gaikwad’s fiery 92 runs off 50 balls, the coach said that he’s an absolute class player and that his outstanding talent is really untapped.

“He’s an outstanding talent that is really untapped. We read them so highly. And when you see him playing like that we think he’s just an absolute class player. He’s got power, and he’s got touch. And only good things will happen to him. And tonight was an exhibition, he was disappointed. He also could have kicked on a little bit and given us that extra 20 runs. But that can happen. But the 90 runs he got were a pleasure to watch,” said Fleming.

With Gaikwad going strong, CSK looked on course for a 200 plus total before Titans stemmed the flow of runs in the middle overs. CSK eventually managed 178 for seven which Titans chased down with four balls to spare and five wickets in hand.

Karter Wanda

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