CSK became the first team to qualify for the play-off stages of IPL 2021 following their ninth win of the campaign, but the form of experienced Raina has dipped ever since his fifty in the tournament opener back in April.

Since his knock of 36 balls 54, Raina has added 103 more runs in 9 innings, but an unconcerned Fleming said he expects the southpaw to improve his performance as the tournament progresses.

“We have a pretty clear role for him. He has got an optimal time. We want him to bat and we’ve afforded the luxury of a player coming out and being aggressive. So, just getting the timing right without managing the batters,” Fleming said at the virtual post-match conference.

“We value his experience and everything has got a part to play in the middle. Suresh is an experienced player who has earned a bit of a leeway and as the tournament goes on, his performance will improve.”

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CSK produced a convincing performance against Sunrisers Hyderabad to maintain their remarkable consistency this season and sailed into the play-offs on Thursday with a six-wicket win at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Despite registering four wins on the trot, Fleming said he is not on big on momentum, which he believes can go quickly as it comes and with the play-off berth sealed, the coach said CSK have a chance to manage workload of players.

“I am not big on momentum. Momentum can go as quick as you have it. We don’t really talk about that. What we have probably been afforded is that we can manage workloads of players a bit better,” Fleming said.

“We have got a day and travel to Abu Dhabi and a day and then a game. The opportunities for guys who are on the fringe… we have afforded that luxury now. But we won’t be too experimental,” he added.

The three-time IPL champions, who had a season to forget in 2020, have 18 points on the back of nine wins from 11 matches and are the first team to secure a spot in the playoffs.

And Fleming said they finished well after a poor start last season and took confidence out of it to emerge stronger in this campaign.

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“I think I mentioned it at that time. We were really proud of the way we finished. The way we won the last four games in a row and started to get a little bit of rhythm together. In the first half of the tournament, a number of things went wrong,” Fleming said.

“Our form and confidence were really low but the way we finished was really encouraging and gave us the look of what we could be.”

“We sat down and analysed to get competitive and took confidence out of it and knew it was just a couple of positions that might make a better balanced side.

“In fact though it was a bad year, we were only a win away from a semifinal. Just about trying to create a balanced side that would suit us. It was just about creating an environment that was positive and making sure there was no doubt,” he concluded.

CSK will look carry on the winning momentum when they next take on Rajasthan Royals at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (October 2).


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