His bowlers will have to counter AB de Villiers if they want to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore and reach the final of the IPL on Sunday, says Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming.
CSK and RCB face-off in a second qualifier on Friday after De Villiers led RCB to victory in their Eliminator against Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday.
De Villiers is experiencing his best IPL season ever and currently has the third most runs in this years tournament with 512. He will come up against his good friend and international teammate Faf du Plessis, who has been an important performer for CSK batting in their top order.
Fleming told The Times of India he hopes his bowlers will be able to restrict the destructive De Villiers, who forms part of a potentially devastating batting line-up that included Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli.
‘You can make as many plans as you like but he [De Villiers] is such a good player,’ said Fleming.
‘He is the world’s best player and against him, you have got to hold your nerve, have a bit of courage and also be ready to take the opportunity when it comes by. You cannot give him two bites at the cherry and have to be absolutely on the mark from ball one.
‘Virat [Kohli] will look to bat through and he is a wonderful player. But AB is certainly the guy who will take the game away from you,’ Fleming added.
The 42-year-old former New Zealand captain said the top-order needs to fire if CSK want to qualify for the final.
‘Our batsmen are getting out at the wrong time. We are losing more wickets than we have lost in the previous IPL seasons. So we are seeing lots of batsmen having to play innings of substance when all we need is for our top four or five to get the majority of runs,’ Fleming said.
‘That has probably been the difference this year as compared to other years when we have fallen short on top-order runs. We have a chance of rectifying that now and we have a very good top-order to do that.’
Chennai ended the league at the top of the table with opener Brendon McCullum as their leading run-scorer. But Fleming said batsmen other than McCullum have been inconsistent in their showing.
‘Except for Brendon McCullum, who scored 400-plus runs, all our other batsmen are down from where they usually would be. We want our entire batting order to fire tomorrow. Bowling, on the whole, I think has done pretty well,’ he said.