When Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians take the field at the Eden Gardens on Sunday evening, memories will go back to 2010, at the DY Patil Stadium. That was the last time the two teams met in an IPL final, both eyeing a maiden title. CSK lifted the trophy then and for the next two years while the MI are still searching for their first IPL silverware.
On the eve of the IPL 2013 finale, as Stephen Fleming addressed the media, with Michael Hussey and MI coach John Wright, he hoped that CSK’s experience of playing four IPL finals out of five gives them an edge in the ‘big’ game.
The Super Kings coach said having players who can keep their cool in pressure situations will hold the team in good stead.
“Right from having Mike (Hussey) at the top, going down, we have some players who are capable of remaining calm under any situation and it is when the leadership quality comes to the fore,” Fleming said.
“Your senior players’ experience counts for a lot in such tournaments. They get nervous too but their ability to soak in the pressure and respond is what takes the team home. Our captain (MS Dhoni) took the game by the scruff of its neck in the 2011 World Cup final and won it for India. He has snatched some key games for us too. Those are the players you turn to and the more of those you have in your side, better the chance you have,” he said.
Fleming credited CSK’s consistency across all seasons of IPL to the team’s policy of having the same core group of players since 2008.
“We formed a strategy from the outset that we will remain loyal to players,” Fleming said. “In the second auction we retained 95 per cent of our side and over the years we have built some strong relationships. You can come in and build the team environment in a year but it will be only so much deep. When strong camaraderie develops between players, they not only know each other’s game but can also know each other off the field. That helps the team during tough times,” he said.
While the Chennai team made the final last year as well, Fleming was more pleased with their performance this season.
“From the coaching point of view this has been one of the better seasons for us. The last year we just made it to the top four and came home in a hurry. This year we’ve been one of the better sides and very consistent. I’m delighted the way this season has gone cricket wise and hopefully we can end it perfectly too,” the coach said.
Given the consistency of CSK and MI in IPL 2013, finishing first and second on the points table respectively, both Fleming and Michael Hussey believed that worthy teams have made it to the final this year.
“We have got enormous respect for the Mumbai team. We’ve had some tough battles with them not only this year but over the course of six years,” Hussey said. “This final is a big game and we will focus on our performances and hopefully our spirit can take us over the line. I’m sure it’s going to be an extremely tough match and there might be a difference of only one amazing catch or a run-out. When two good teams meet, it’s the little things that matter the most.”