Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant, IPL 2017, final, Hyderabad May 21, 2017

Fleming proud of Pune in 'great final'

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'We were a batsman short without Stokes' - Fleming

The one run that separated Mumbai Indians from Rising Pune Supergiant is an accurate representation of the way the IPL 2017 final played out. Both teams scrapped hard on a sluggish surface and made mistakes in turns. However, when it came to the final act, Pune, as their coach Stephen Fleming put it, couldn't "kill the game".

"It was a game of inches and metres," Fleming said after the match. "Steve Smith came very close to winning it in the last over and it could have been a much different story. But that was the nature of the game. It was very ebb and flow on what was quite a tough wicket to score on. We knew that it was going to be tough. We knew their bowling attack was top class. We fell behind a couple of times. We lost wickets at key times. They just hung in and created enough pressure to get across the line but it was just a great final. It was full of pressure, full of mistakes and it was full of great performances. It was a grand finish to a good competition".

After Rohit Sharma had opted to bat, Pune's bowlers largely neutered whatever advantage Mumbai may have hoped to gain from winning the toss with tight spells at the top. While the fielding - right from Jaydev Unadkat's return catch to send back Lendl Simmons to Smith's direct hit that caught Ambati Rayudu short - was first-rate, there was no shortage of tactical smarts as well.

Against Kieron Pollard, Pune replicated the field they had for him during the league game at the Wankhede Stadium and almost immediately found success. Manoj Tiwary was stationed on the boundary right behind the bowler, and Pollard holed out to him with unerring accuracy off the third ball he faced.

"We were happy. The way we bowled and went about our work was very good. One-hundred and twenty-nine, if you asked us that as a score in a final to chase down, you would take it every time," Fleming said. "We were calculated in the field. Some of the outs were very pleasing in terms of field positioning and tactics we used. Batting wise, it was always going to be a grind.

"I don't think we are the most skilled side in the IPL. What we have had is players stand up from nowhere. We take real pride in that."
Stephen Fleming

"We were a batter short with Ben Stokes not being here. We were playing an extra bowler and we were a little mindful of that. The best way was a couple of partnerships and gain momentum. We saw Smith and [Ajinkya] Rahane come close to that. We just lost wickets at key times and it kept them just in the game, and then they came home with a real rush."

While Pune had a decent start in the Powerplay to score 38 for 1, they could make only incremental advances as they scored 27 runs in the next five overs. Fleming, however, maintained there was no other way they could have approached the chase.

"If you lose three for 20, then it's game on. It was always going to take us a partnership to get close but we just could not get the one or two overs when we were close to putting the game away," he said. "We lost wickets, or they bowled a good over. It was never going to be a wicket where they could blast your way through. When we played against [Sunrisers] Hyderabad, we found that as well. Just batting deep was the best opportunity and we could not get over the line [tonight].

"The wicket was two paced. Both teams struggled to play aggressively on it. The number of boundaries that were limited and the mis-hits that came along suggested inconsistent bounce and reverse swing. It was a tough track to score on, but the bowling on both sides was outstanding. We have some good bowlers who have performed well in that type of conditions for most of the tournament and we were at it again today. They have some good pace bowlers who did a great job, especially in the last four or five overs."

Fleming, said the result wouldn't gloss over the advances made by Pune in IPL 2017 after finishing second from bottom on the points table last year. What pleased him most was the contribution made by relatively low-key players like Jaydev Unadkat, Rahul Tripathi and Manoj Tiwary.

Stephen Fleming: 'Steve was the captain this year and MS Dhoni slotted in to the role of a senior player very easily' © AFP

"I don't think we are the most skilled side in the IPL. What we have had is players stand up from nowhere. We take real pride in that," he said. "We have created an environment where some players have been able to excel. Jaydev has been extraordinary again today, so has been Rahul Tripathi and Tiwary. Big stars have stepped up at key times as well. Ben Stokes was fantastic for us.

"Steve was the captain this year and MS Dhoni slotted in to the role of a senior player very easily. He is a proud man but he is humble man. We saw the interaction between the two and other leaders, Faf du Plessis as well. So leadership was never going to be a weakness for us. It was a case of making sure all our leaders were contributing in the right areas.

"I am very proud of the combination we put together and the campaign we ran. We would have loved to have sat here and had the icing on the cake but it does not change the feelings about the work that we put in during the year to get to this point."

As part of the two-year agreement, Pune have possibly played their last game as an IPL franchise as Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are set to return in IPL 2018. What does the future hold for Fleming and the team?

"We concentrated on getting this game through and finishing as well as we could and then whatever happens after this, I am not sure anybody knows about it to be honest," he said. "We didn't spend a lot of time on working out what-ifs. It was purely what we could control and that was getting into the final. Secondly, we lost some players on the way to the final so that was a big goal to get here [to the top two] and then hopefully play two good games. And we came pretty close".

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jose on May 23, 2017, 5:51 GMT

    With hindsight, we can argue anything, any which way we want.

    But, the 1st para of this piece by Arun captures the essence of the reality..

    " The one run that separated Mumbai Indians from Rising Pune Supergiant is an accurate representation of the way the IPL 2017 final played out."

    Most of us are forgetting the nature of the pitch, and any bravado batting might have courted disaster, sooner than later. As Arun says, " Both teams scrapped hard on a sluggish surface and made mistakes in turns." No one make mistakes on purpose, when stakes are high. Those mistakes do happen when games are played by humans , and not by robots!

    To cloud our judgement further, we are so addicted to batsmen dominating the bowlers, it really muddies our judgement, if and when the balance gets tilted in the bowlers favour, which anyway, provides far more gripping contests.

  • sundar4293684 on May 22, 2017, 22:16 GMT

    (1) Understand the logic of MSD coming 2 down so as to have more time to settle down but it back fired. He could not score even a single with ease. (2) Not being harsh to Smith (my favorite), the main scorer for RPS, he took very many balls to reach 20. He should have accelerated along with Rahane. I feel that Smith not a must for T20 (3) MSD-Smith slow batting was the only reason for the loss. (4) Do not forget the early reprieve of Smith. Of course Mumbai bowled superbly.

  • Brishni on May 22, 2017, 16:52 GMT

    @CRICKETCHAT : Mate, in the 1983 WC Kapil's Devils took All 10 West Indies wickets unlike the IPL finals. And the Windies batsmen were forced to play shots and got out because of pressure by bowlers picking wickets.

    Don't think Viv Richards was being defensive when Kapil caught him at short mid wicket top edging a pulll.

    Your comment comparing the 83 WC Finals to Ipl finals is frankkly worse than comparing chalk and cheese.

  • Steve on May 22, 2017, 12:43 GMT

    I blame Fleming, an astute thinker of the game who maximized his limited skills as a player, for goofing up the strategy on chasing a tricky, low score, similar to WI chasing a paltry 183 in 1982 ODI WC against India. RPS someone to be the aggressor to get ahead of the RR while batsmen at the other end needed to preserve wkts while rotating the strike. Neither was attempted. You can't have batsmen like Rahane, Dhoni and Tiwary, who are all poor rotators of strike and skipper Smith joining the same path. RPS batted like they are playing an ODI. They deserved to lose, just for running up the RRR to as high as 12.

  • Shevahn on May 22, 2017, 8:28 GMT

    @Smudga how does RPS deserve the title when Mumbai topped the league?

  • woxusi0823340 on May 22, 2017, 8:02 GMT

    1 run loss is hard to take. RPS deserved the title this year. Sad

  • Brishni on May 22, 2017, 7:32 GMT

    Pune has thrown.light on some great domestic talent like Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur, Tripathi, Sundar who are all at prime playing age or emerging youngsterd and the experienced Manoj Tiwary who were instrumental in getting Pune to th brink of victory.

    In key must win matches Unadkat, Thakur & Sundar picked wickets &;restricted run scoring.

    Well done RPS..Your legacy dhall not be forgotten.

  • ttpiqb4384331 on May 22, 2017, 6:22 GMT

    Good game..I agree with Mahendra1...it should have been different...if Dhoni batted no:6

  • Aniruddha on May 22, 2017, 5:51 GMT

    It was soothing to see that Pune team improved their performance match by match even if having no big guns in their set; whereas even if u have big guns in MI was expecting to win matches at ease which never happened. Anyways Congrats to MI and lets hope that next year auction brings fresh set to MI table.

  • mukundarajan on May 22, 2017, 5:39 GMT

    The coach seems to be not impressed with Sunder. May be because he lacks variety and can not continue like this. A Great coach is one who leaves his ward guessing. As a teenager Sunder is well advised to improve by having some more weapons in his armory.

    Thanks Mr.Flemming for not hyping Sundar's performance and making him realise that he needs to improve in the off season ahead. I am sure Sundar would hv recd HOLIDAY HOMEWORK fm the Coach and will do well to implement the plan.

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