Brendon McCullum's absence will be felt: Stephen Fleming
Mumbai, May 18 (IANS) Chennai Super Kings (CSK) coach Stephen Fleming on Monday said the absence of hard-hitting opener Brendon McCullum will have a big impact when his side takes on Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, 2010 and 2011 champions CSK will have to come up with a new opening combination as the New Zealander departed to join his national squad to play in a Test series against England starting May 21.
A win for either team on Tuesday will ensure a place in the tournament's final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 24, whereas the losing side will get a second chance to prove its worth.
"Absence of McCullum will impact a lot. He is an excellent player. But we have introduced Hussey in the last game against Punjab, even though he didn't get a major contribution," Fleming said at the pre-match press conference.
"And Dwayne Smith has also a good record here in Mumbai. So we have been planning for this for a long time. So we would have liked to give Mike Hussey a bit more time.
"But I have a big confidence in Hussey. He has given one of the most consistent performances over the years. But the way he has trained suggests he will give his best."
The former New Zealand skipper and current Chennai coach said the team will look to Suresh Raina in the absence of McCullum.
"It is not that he is performing badly or practicing badly. He has been in excellent touch. His last innings was good as he saw the game though. And he likes playing at Wankhede.
"He is one of the players we are hopeful will stand up on big occasions and win big matches. He is certainly one of those and he has done it for us in the past number of times. We will look up to Raina in the absence of McCullum," he said.
CSK took a while to beat Mumbai at Wankhede. Last year they achieved it and this year they won here again in the first leg match on April 17.
"It is a tough game as it comes as a home and away game. Rather than a semi-final at a neutral venue, it's a home and away game. We just have to be smart as it's a great occasion.
"Yes it is a difficult game and a tough place to win. This is what we are here for. We don't expect an easy game in a play-off match. And we have got a tough one ahead of us," the 42-year-old said.
When asked how CSK approach games in league and knockout stages, Fleming said, "It's about dealing with pressure. It's about calming the nerves. We saw David Warner stepping on the boundary line against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and in the end probably cost the side from going through and RCB getting through.
"There can be one ball, one small moment with a bit of brilliance that can be the difference between winning the tournament and going home. The consequences get that more when you reach this stage of the tournament.
"Yes it has been an excellent competition thus far. And a couple of twists to go. The team which deals with that pressure and individuals which stand up will be the difference," Fleming said.