On Saturday, in a must-win clash against Delhi Capitals to seal their Playoffs spot, Conway was pristine in his strokeplay during his 52-ball innings of 87, hitting 11 fours and three sixes while sharing a massive 141-run opening partnership to propel Chennai in reaching a gigantic 223/3 and set the base for a 77-run victory at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
Conway is also the third-highest run-scorer of the competition with 585 runs in 14 innings, averaging 53.18.
"He compares highly (as compared to other previous CSK overseas openers). He’s started well and was always in plans to bat through, with Stokes and Moeen in the middle batting and bowling. But Conway’s been a constant, not only for us at the IPL but also in every international series and format he’s played; his numbers are really high."
"His consistency over a long period of time is no longer a question. So, he gets runs and always looks most flamboyant, as easy on the eye, so as Ruturaj (Gaikwad). But Conway’s ability to get runs and do the job is high-class and is a very valued member of the side," said Fleming in the post-match press conference.
Fleming also heaped praise on Gaikwad, who wowed a majorly yellow jersey-wearing crowd by hitting three fours and seven sixes in his 50-ball 79, the base of which was brilliance on back-foot shots.
"We love him really. Since he’s been with the side and with us, we have a lot of respect for what he can do. We took care in introducing him to the side because we knew he was going to be special and all he’s doing now is realising his talent. He’s so pleasing to the eye when he gets going and his combination with Conway has been a key reason why we have been so successful. You have to have a majority of runs in the top three and we have that with those two for sure," he added.
In the match, Shivam Dube’s promotion to No. 3 worked well with him hitting three sixes in a 9-ball 22. Fleming stated instilling belief in Dube has worked well for him and Chennai this season.
"Just belief; often players who have an error of weakness, you aren’t concentrating too much on it. So we tend to just concentrate on the good things he does and if he continues playing, then he gets better and better. He’s been in and out; at the start, we were trying to find some evidence that he’s going to be the guy for us and the innings in Bangalore did that."
"He’s responded to be a constant in the side. When you put more confidence and belief in the side, players will hide their weaknesses. He’s worked on it from a technical point of view, but mentally, he’s ready to take on anything and has a strong belief."
Apart from Dube, Deepak Chahar played a decisive hand in Chennai’s win, being the pick of bowlers with 3-22 in four overs, which Fleming thinks augurs well ahead of the playoffs.
"Very important that he was on the park and can now get some confidence in his body. He bowled very well today; he’s getting back to as good as he can be. He’s getting back to that with fitness and overs under his belt."
"His spell today was smart and a combination of Deshpande being very good, even though he wasn’t at his best in the last game, but picked up three wickets. If you have got a bit of a golden arm, with two-three games to go, it is important that he continues that form," he added.
With Chennai outplaying Delhi in every department of the game, Fleming expressed happiness over getting a game where the side ticked all boxes easily.
"You dream to be ruthless. But it was a really pressurised game for us. We couldn’t have faced the scenario of losing the game and not qualifying. We were realistic about that and had to put up a performance to win the game comprehensively."
"We just wanted to give ourselves the chance to get through and if we sneaked in through other results, that would have been a bonus. But we played really well; it was a polished performance. We had been simmering away for a while to get a few things right, but not completely and it was very good today."
With a return to Chennai awaited for the first leg of the Playoffs after confirming their progression into the last-four stage for the 12th time in the history of the IPL, Fleming signed off by saying giving people opportunities to be Chennai’s vital cogs in the wheel has helped them bounce back after finishing at the ninth place last year while admitting they are still trying to figure out home conditions.
"We have been pretty consistent really. Each year is different, the Covid year (of playing IPL) was different and felt we got a couple of things wrong there, but we finished really well. Last year, when we were struggling, we worked upon those things to work in the following year. A lot of work goes into the before year; we just don’t give up."
"We try to give opportunities or keep pieces of the puzzle we are happy with. So, that has helped us bounce back and that’s helped us again. We have had players pop up this year — Deshpande is a good example. He would be in the top three-four people we are talking about."
"But through injury and opportunities, he’s developed into a quality player. It also goes back to the auction table; we are seeing about the players we want. About this year, we are still not a hundred per cent sure about the conditions in Chennai. Other years, we were sure about it, but it’s changed this year."