Chennai Super Kings‘ IPL campaign received a major fillip on Wednesday with injured skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni joining the squad and practising at the nets ahead of their clash with Mumbai Indians on Thursday.
Dhoni had injured his right elbow after being hit by a Shane Bond delivery during their match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens and eventually was ruled out of three subsequent matches against Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Coach Stephen Fleming said the team was cautious but optimistic about Dhoni’s return against the high-flying MI and if it happens it would be major psychological boost.
“It looks good. He is right back with the team and he’s also training. We will take a call on his fitness tomorrow. We have to see how his arm reacts. We are happy at this stage but we will be cautious,” Fleming said.
The former New Zealand captain explained that there were extraneous factors outside the IPL’s ambit that has to be considered before a call is taken on whether the India captain can play on Thursday.
“We are looking at his full fitness and there are also responsibilities to the Indian cricket. There are a lot of interested parties. We will be cautious but we are optimistic,” he said.
Fleming admitted that the loss to Kings XI Punjab prior to loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore has hurt the team badly.
“That was a big game to lose for us. That did hurt. Then we faced a very good side, the Royal Challengers last night. It has been tough couple of days for us but we are still very positive. We have been in this position before in the two previous editions.
“I guess it is a psychological boost to have the skipper back, good for the team morale. It’s great to have him around. We understand there are ups and down. We are positive and we are looking forward to playing another good side,” he said.
Fleming feels if a team wins 60 per cent of the matches, it would be enough to gain the top four berth and said that’s what his team would be aiming at.
“History of the competition says it is going to come down to the wires. Early round wins are important. That’s why the loss to Punjab certainly hurt us in the dressing room.
“We know winning 50 or 60 per cent of games or seven or eight games will be enough. All we have to do is make last four. We are realistic we want to get back on that winning roll,” he said.
Conceding that RCB and Mumbai Indians are the two teams who were looking good to make the semis, Fleming said it was for the other teams to bring them down on level terms.
“At the moment Bangalore and Mumbai are certainly the teams in form. It can change with injuries and form slump. It’s for other teams to stop that and bring them to the pack. It’s our responsibility with Mumbai tomorrow,” he said.
He also felt that giving the captaincy of CSK to Suresh Raina, even when Mathew Hayden was around, was the right decision.
“The IPL is all about developing the Indian players. Suresh Raina is a champion in the making and he’s going to be a very good captain. He did an exceptional job when the resources were down and the balance of the side had changed. Developing him as captain through Chennai for India is good,” he said.