Stephen Fleming earmarked seamers Mukesh Choudhary and Simarjeet Singh as his team’s two major positives from a season of doom and gloom. Looking back at Chennai Super Kings’ disappointing IPL 2022 campaign, the New Zealand great feels Choudhary and Simarjeet emerged as the two shining lights.
While still finding their feet in the set-up, Choudhary and Simarjeet gave Fleming a reason to be optimistic about the team’s fortunes as the defending champions step into the next transition phase.
Choudhary, the left-arm seamer from Maharashtra, finished as CSK’s joint-highest wicket-taker for the tournament. He took 16 wickets from his 13 games at an average of 26.50. Even though Choudhary went for 9.31 runs an over on good batting tracks, he showcased enough potential for the CSK think-tank to work with.
Talking of potential, Simarjeet, too, exhibited it nicely after bagging four scalps from his six innings. The tall Delhi right-arm seamer also maintained a decent economy rate of 7.66 in his brief stint towards the end of the league stage.
Fleming deemed the two uncapped Indian cricketers as “positives” from a season where not a lot went right on and off the field for his team.
“I think he (Mukesh Choudhary) was excellent. He had a nervous start, but we stuck with him and we reaped the rewards towards the end. He just got better with every passing day. Simarjeet, he got a handful of games too, is also responding to the pressure. So, those two boys definitely were a positive,”Fleming told the press after CSK’s five-wicket loss in their final league encounter against the Rajasthan Royals on May 20.
Having talked up the positives, Fleming assessed the overall campaign and said CSK played an inconsistent brand of cricket and failed to close out of a number of critical situations and matches, which eventually came back to haunt the four-time champions.
Fleming said his team’s inspirational run to the title last year after a maiden league stage exit back in 2020 was a “catastrophic success”. But to replicate their feat, the team in yellow needed to stitch together solid performances at some stage in the competition.
CSK became the second team to be eliminated from the playoffs race after Mumbai Indians and finished ninth in the tournament standings with just four wins and ten losses in their 14 games. Their worst ever season in IPL history.
“There was mixed success. We sort of stuttered our way through. We had a number of games that were close, but we were not good enough to get across the line,”Fleming said.
While CSK retained some of their experienced core group, Fleming said the assimilation of young faces in the set-up and them finding their feet is a process that would take time.
“When you start a new cycle and have a number of new players and a new dynamic in the team it can be testing. We suffered from catastrophic success so just trying to play the same way, continue from our last four years, which were very successful, is a real challenge. Dropping back and understanding what the new players can do, it can take a little bit of time.”he mentioned.
Known for uniformity and regularity in their thought process and selection, CSK also had a shocking mid-season change on the captaincy front after their originally appointed skipper Ravindra Jadeja decided to hand over the reigns back to MS Dhoni. The veteran has confirmed that he will be skipper for the IPL 2023, too.