CHENNAI: In 2008 at Nagpur, Sourav Ganguly played his last Test against Australia under MS Dhoni. The hosts had won convincingly. After the match while addressing the media for the last time Ganguly was asked to comment on Dhoni's captaincy.
"Dhoni's captaincy is just like mine. He does not believe in the drawing board and leads by instinct. India is in safe hands,'' Ganguly had said.
True to the current BCCI president's words Dhoni's success as a captain across all formats has been his ability to read the situation well, lead by instinct and gut feeling. This formula has also been the reason behind the success of Chennai Super Kings over the years.
On Friday night at Dubai Chennai defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs to secure its fourth IPL title. Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming who has been with the Chennai franchise both as a player and as a coach stressed the same point that Ganguly had once mentioned about Dhoni.
From being in the dumps last season, CSK rose like a phoenix to annex the crown this year. CSK has often been criticised for persisting with ageing players when the format was all about youth. But Fleming revealed that his team values experience more than any data analytics.
"There was criticism about the age of our squad but it's rewarding to finish the four-year cycle with the trophy. We have had a number of finals, but crossing the line is what you want to conquer. There has been a bit of criticism about the age of players in our side, but the players have stepped up. We value youth, but the experience is very important. We don't go too deep into the numbers, analytics but are a team more on instincts. Yes we are a bit old school in that sense but it works for us in this group,'' said Fleming after his team's sensational win.
Fleming as the captain of New Zealand has been part of several victories. As a coach of CSK he has been part of four title triumphs.
"It is very hard to rank them (the titles). It is also special because you work so hard and the result is due to a lot of hard work, so they (the titles) are all very special. But I think the one win in 2018, coming back was very emotional but there is a lot of hard work in this one (2021). I don't think a lot of people had any hopes for us to be able to maintain our competitiveness during this cycle. We were pretty much written off,'' he said.
"So there is a little bit of satisfaction around that and a lot of pride in what the players have been able to achieve and maintain the standards over a number of months and that was a challenge for an ageing side. I am really proud about what they did and in the way they played," added Fleming.
Fleming believed that the title was a recognition of the hard work that the team put in and hinted that there could be a few changes in the composition of team in the next edition.
"There is emotion around, I think when you get to an end of a cycle you are not going to get some players back, so there (was) some emotions around these last games. When you win it, it is a celebration and also recognition of what players have put in. Chennai always had a system or belief that you maintain players and keep them with you for a long period of time and get the best out of them. There are some players that have been with us for a long time.
"It will be interesting to see over the next few months how it pans out but most teams are probably going to have a bit of change to them," insisted Fleming.
Ruturaj Gaikwad was in fabulous form this season and ended up as the highest run-getter. Faf du Plessis reserved his best for the final by making a match-winning effort of 86 off 59 balls.
Fleming admitted that the opening partnership between South Africa's Faf du Plessis and the talented Ruturaj Gaikwad was one of the reasons for the team's success.
"Yeah, I do see him (Gaikwad) as the next star of Indian cricket. He (Ruturaj) is an absolute superstar already in my eyes. When we introduced him last year, people were a little bit critical but we (had) such high expectations from him. We are really delighted that he finished off the season so well. He is a wonderful kid."