“Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is nursing a knee injury, which is hindering his movement somewhat,” said head coach Stephen Fleming after the four-time IPL champions lost a last-ball thriller to Rajasthan Royals by three runs.
Adding to the injury worries, CSK’s South African pace bowler Sisanda Magala too suffered a split webbing at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday night (April 12).
“He (Dhoni) is nursing a knee injury, which you can see in some of his movement, hindering him somewhat. His fitness has been professional. He comes in months before the tournament starts. He does some nets in Ranchi, but his main pre-season is a month before he comes to Chennai,” Fleming told reporters at the post-match press conference after CSK suffered their second defeat in four games this season.
Also read: IPL 2023: Sandeep’s block-hole deliveries help Rajasthan Royals clinch win over CSK
Seamer Sandeep Sharma nailed a couple of perfect block-hole deliveries to earn a hard-fought victory for the Royals.
Chasing 176, Dhoni (32) and Ravindra Jadeja (25) were on course requiring 21 runs off the last over. CSK’s final score was 172/6 as Dhoni couldn’t end his 200th game for CSK in a manner he would have wanted to on home turf.
Fleming confident that Dhoni will manage his injury well
Fleming, though, expressed confidence that the former India captain would manage his injury well and would continue to lead the side.
“He works his way back into match form, and you can still see he is playing pretty well. So we always have confidence about how he manages himself. He always keeps himself up to speed,” said Fleming, allaying concerns about Dhoni’s fitness.
On Magala, who had to leave the field with a split webbing after bowling two overs, Fleming said, “For us again, it’s losing another player – that’s two games in a row – and we’re already pretty thin, so we’d like it (injuries) to stop.”
CSK’s list of injured players growing by the day
CSK’s list of injured players is growing by the day with England all-rounder Ben Stokes, bought for ₹16.25 crore at the IPL auction, missing the game due to a heel injury, while pacer Deepak Chahar has been almost ruled out of IPL 2023 due to a hamstring injury he sustained during the match against Mumbai Indians.
“Magala’s hand was split unfortunately, so he was unable to bowl those last two overs. And same with Deepak Chahar in the last game, so we’re operating on pretty thin resources. But we’re not the only team to have that.”
Also read: IPL 2023: Dhoni gets ‘Thala 200’ memento ahead of CSK vs RR game (Video)
“I think a lot of players coming out of a big domestic season are a little bit broken, but we just keep having to find solutions,” Fleming said.
“So we’ll do that in the next four days. But, yeah, it’s not ideal yet. The captain has to then think on his feet (if bowlers keep getting injured). Moeen Ali had to come back (after Magala hurt his webbing), and he hadn’t had a great day but he got the wicket of (Jos) Buttler which was good.
“And you’ve got young players like Akash (Singh) who is coming in for his first game, having to bowl some key overs. It’s not how we plan, but T20 very rarely goes to plan,” the CSK coach added.
Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana available now
Fleming said that Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana, who had tested positive for Covid-19 in New Zealand, had recovered and was available for selection now.
“Chahar is out for a few weeks. Magala is out for two weeks. Stokes is being monitored on a day-to-day basis. Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana tested positive for Covid-19 in NZ and has recovered and is available for selection now. We did not want to rush him back for this game.”
Fleming critical about fielding
Fleming was also critical about the fielding.
“Extras, sloppy in the field with some catches going down, and little things on the day are going to matter as the competition is getting tighter and little things like these will determine results. We lost momentum in the middle, and their spinners bowled well. Some good hitting at the end got us close.”
Also read: IPL 2023: ‘Ban CSK’ call ahead of Dhoni’s milestone match in Chennai
Dhoni too had pointed out sometime back about his bowlers giving away far too many runs in wides and no-balls.
“We came up against a team that matched well, and it was a pretty good contest. Three-run defeat was a fair reflection,” added Fleming.
CSK play their next game against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru on April 17.
(With inputs from agencies)