Chennai: Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming said while his team's strategy to target Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir worked, little-known Manvinder Bisla's outstanding knock came as a surprise and snatched the game away from the defending champions.
Chasing a stiff target of 191, KKR's Bisla played the most defining innings of his life, scoring 89 off only 48 balls (8x4, 5x6) to show his team the way. "I don't know if we can over-analyse how wrong we got it, but admire what they did. Bisla, I thought was outstanding, they needed someone to stand up. We got a great early wicket with Gambhir, which we had targeted, but we didn't expect the onslaught from Bisla, maybe a quick 30, 40 would have been fine, but he took it quite deep and with [Jacques] Kallis," said Fleming after Chennai lost the nerve-wracking IPL 5 final against Kolkata on Sunday night.
"This partnership [Bisla and Kallis] gave them the belief. Going in to last over with 15 runs is a different story. We did not fire our way through. It is probably a very fitting finale and it is a great IPL in terms the cricket that has been played," he added.
The Chennai Super Kings coach admitted that the Kolkata batsman's blitz took them unawares.
Asked why Ravindra Jadeja or Suresh Raina were not used when Bisla and Kallis were going great guns, Fleming said, "It is very hard to analyse where you could have used the bowlers in different situations. We have got bowlers to deliver under pressure and they are experienced players and they have performed for us throughout the tournament."
Adding that captain Mahendra Singh could answer that question better, Fleming said, "I do not know whether it is right or wrong. [Shadab] Jakati has been bowling well in last couple of games. But in a high scoring game it is always going to be such situations and we do not over analyse about them."
Criticising Chennai's fielding, Fleming said, "Couple of turning points was there in the match. Bisla got his way. Our fielding was not good and was not as sharp as we expected it to be. Perhaps we were under pressure for the first time. We knew it is going to be a high scoring game and the pitch was very good. We were not really complacent but were edgy."
Fleming said though he was disappointed that his team failed to make it the hat-trick of titles, he was satisfied to have reached the final. "We were happy we got the chance to play in the finals, but once we started the finals, I think you saw a rejuvenated CSK. Once we got a sniff, I think we felt we could go all the way and with the chance we'd been given. The fact we played two and a half finals games pretty well was an indication that we had firm belief of winning three out of three," said the New Zealander.
"We're very disappointed not to have crossed the line after playing and getting 190, but I say again, it was a very good performance to beat us and when you get beaten like that, it's easier to take than if you've played below par. I think we have played very well the last three games, we just didn't get the silverware."
The coach also said Kolkata, who won their maiden IPL title, did a great job under pressure. "Kolkata did incredibly well under pressure. In hard times 190 is a good score. We dropping catches also mattered."
Fleming felt that his team did not play like champions in the league phase of the IPL 5. "The way we played in the league phase we did not perform like champions. It is disappointing to lose a final but it is a great achievement. The challenge for this side is giving up going three in a row. I'm not saying that we were complacent in winning an IPL but year after year we have done incredibly well. We are finding new ways to challenge ourselves to stay motivated for long period of time. The international players coming in and out of injury and a bit jaded and taking lot of time to coming in to the side. We succeeded well from challenges this year. The challenge has been after making one, two in a row and going for the third. From coaching point of view it has been the toughest campaign in IPL and it would have been fantastic if we had crossed the line."
Fleming said the fact that despite not playing at their best Chennai ended up as runners-up shows the team's character. "We did not win two competitions by chance. We practiced hard and prepared ourselves very hard for this competition. We made the final...it speaks about the character within our side. Having won the tournament twice and in for the third title showed that we are one of the best sides. Our challenge next year is to remain the most consistent side and look to better our performances."