Chennai:Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is down with an elbow injury, could be seen in Indian Premier League action sooner than expected and he is likely to take the field against Mumbai Indians on March 25.
CSK coach Stephen Fleming on Saturday said Dhoni could be fit before their away match against Mumbai Indians though earlier assessment just after the skipper's elbow injury on March 16 was that he would be available only after the Mumbai game.
"We are in touch (with Dhoni). He is recovering slowly. Physio has asked him to be ready to bat in Mumbai game. Dhoni will be seen by physio well before that and we are hoping that he will be available for our matches starting with Mumbai," Fleming told reporters when asked about Dhoni's condition ahead of Sunday's match against Kings XI Punjab here.
This would mean that Dhoni would miss CSK's match against Kings XI Punjab here on Sunday and their away match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on March 23.
Fleming said his players cannot lower their guards against Kings XI Punjab who are yet to notch up a win in their three matches.
"I think it is a dangerous side to be playing against. We got to put them under pressure straight away and hopefully expose some lack of confidence which will come from losing those games. We cannot be over confident and slip up. We have to have discipline in bowling and fielding," said the former New Zealand captain.
"I am surely happy on winning two games. But another eleven matches to go. We have experienced that one can go in to superb form and suddenly lose the momentum. So, we are realistic about each challenge and each game. Our interest is to make the top four in the first phase and that stage will be ideal to win the tournament," said Fleming.
He said that since the par score in the IPL 3 has increased, his team's focus has been to back up the bowling by good fielding.
"It is a batsman's game. It is challenging from bowling point of view. What we have done is to improve our fielding to back the bowlers up. A couple occasions that came on our way yesterday. One was Kemp's catch on the sideways and another was Suresh Raina's effort," he said.
"In the past, Chennai has been strong in batting alone. Now you see the fielding unit, they are making runouts and taking great catches and putting pressure on opposition. We realised that the bowling side of it is tough," he added.
Fleming was all praise for Suresh Raina, who had to fill in captain Dhoni's shoes, for his wise shuffling of the bowlers besides his batting and fielding efforts.
"I think Raina is a superstar now. His job was tough especially when you have to captain against (David) Warner, (Tillakaratne) Dilshan, (Virender) Sehwag, (AB) de Villiers.
He was able to change things around. He had the courage to bring the spinners early in the match. He did a wonderful job with the bat. He finished the job well and you like the captain to do that," he said.
Asked about the mongoose bat of Matthew Hayden who butchered Delhi Daredevils with a 43-ball 93, Fleming said he did not know much about the technology aspect of the burly Australian's willow but the team was happy with his performance.
"I do not know the finer points of it. He has been using it in the nets with mixed success. As for yesterday's match, Hayden, right from the ball one that he faced, was able to convert his shots pretty quickly than others could do. We are very happy.
"He was telling about the increased power that he could generate. It was a fine demonstration of the use of the bat yesterday. I guess the technology is to put the power on the bottom of the bat to the heading zone. You will have to ask him about the technical jargon," said Fleming.
He was happy with the performance of his bowlers so far especially with the show of R Ashwin and Lakshmipathy Balaji.
"The bowlers are doing extremely well. The bowling group is doing superbly well. Ashwin and Balaji have bowled to our expectations. They are good players and Balaji has got good experience at international levels. They are doing what I expect," he said.
"We are able to get the bowling combination well. Justin Kemp has been used to a great deal. He has lot to offer. We tried Joginder Sharma in Delhi but we are able make a different call here. What we are trying to do is to make the adjustments according to the pitch and then also get to know what the skipper wants."