Masterstroke by Stephen Fleming to play Faf du Plessis as an opener - Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina hailed Chennai Super Kings’ coach Stephen Fleming’s move to play Faf du Plessis as an opener in the eliminator match against Mumbai Indians, despite Brendon McCullum coming back into the side, as a masterstroke. The Super Kings went in with four overseas batsmen – Du Plessis, Dwayne Smith, Brendon and David Hussey: a move that raised a few eyebrows among cricketing world.
Although the Super Kings’ overseas bowling recruits in Samuel Badree, Ben Hilfenhaus and John Hastings have failed to impress, it was widely expected that captain MS Dhoni will pick one of the 3 to bolster the misfiring Super Kings bowling unit. However, Indian fast bowler Ashish Nehra’s impressive performance in the last league match seems to have played a role in the selection, and he didn’t disappoint in the play-off, too.
On the Super Kings opening with Du Plessis, Suresh Raina said: "It was a masterstroke by Fleming to persist with Faf at the top. He has been batting really well in the last couple of games and he was unfortunately run out in one game. In this game too, he was batting really well and he had a great partnership with Dwayne Smith at the top."
It could have been a decision to counter Praveen Kumar’s swing in the Powerplay overs. Brendon and Dwayne have shown their vulnerablity against swing bowling in their career so far; while Dwayne struggled to negotiate Praveen in the match against Mumbai Indians which they comfortably won, Du Plessis was playing him with relative ease.
The 27-year-old, who has been appointed as the Indian captain for the upcoming 3-match ODI series against Bangladesh, believes that the Super Kings’ ability to handle pressure gives them an advantage in the knockout stages. He said: “The important thing is that we have handled the pressure really well, over the last seven years. Whenever big days come, you have to go out there, enjoy yourself and express yourself.”