With just a day to go for the Indian Premier League 2020 season opener, which is a rematch of the last year’s final between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, the excitement among fans and the players as well is palpable.
The T20 extravaganza finally returns after months of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; forcing the board to take the IPL overseas for the third time since its inception and the second time in the UAE.
While the fans couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to the tournament, the eyes are firm on MS Dhoni, who marks his return to competitive cricket after 1-year hiatus following India’s 2019 World Cup semis exit.
Speaking a day ahead of the IPL 2020 opener, CSK coach Stephen Fleming suggested that the recently retired international cricketer is fresh and good to go.
“It has been no different (with Dhoni). He’s very fit and mentally he’s been very engaged and determined. In some ways the break can work for the experienced and older players that we have. MS is fresh and ready to go,” he said on CSK’s official website.
Talking about Saturday’s marquee clash, Fleming admitted that CSK-MI game always brings extra motivation and pressure for the players as well.
“The first game is always full of anxiety, nerves and excitement, and CSK-MI has added extra excitement and pressure and we enjoy that. We’ve earned the right to play the first game by playing well last year, and given the way the final finished last year, it’s nice to have another crack at MI,” the former batsman said.
The ex-New Zealand captain felt starting the season with such a marquee clash allows a team to understand if their preparations are on the right track.
“They (MI) are a very good side and it gives you a good gauge as to how the pre-season has gone and the areas that need improvement. You get a good idea after the first game as to where your team is sitting,” he said.
While the wickets and the alien conditions of the gulf country have been a talking point before the franchises touchdown in the UAE, Fleming admitted that not knowing how the pitch is going to react in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, do leave them in a spot of bother.
“It’s one of the challenges of having to travel to Abu Dhabi, we’ve got to have to be very good on the day to have to assess the wicket and pick the right combination.
“Picking the right side for the right conditions is one of the great challenges and we’ve got a good record at that. But I must admit, going to Abu Dhabi without seeing the wicket or assessing the conditions is going to be one of the big challenges to start with,” he explained.