In a recent IPL match between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Gujarat Titans, there was an incident involving MS Dhoni that sparked a controversy. The incident, which even left Sunil Gavaskar fuming, was soon forgotten due to CSK’s comfortable win, and their subsequent entry into the IPL final, marking their 10th appearance.
At the beginning of the 16th over of Gujarat Titans’ chase, with CSK in a commanding position, Dhoni decided to bring back Matheesha Pathirana to quickly finish off the game. However, the umpires initially disallowed this move. Pathirana, introduced as an Impact Player, had bowled only one over in the match, conceding 10 runs and bowling four wides. After his over, he left the field for nine minutes and then returned just before the start of the 16th over.
When Dhoni handed the ball to Pathirana for the 16th over, the umpires intervened, stating that Pathirana had to be on the field for the same amount of time he was off the field in order to continue bowling. There were still four minutes remaining on the clock before Pathirana could start his over. This led to a heated discussion between Dhoni, some other CSK players, and the on-field umpires, which lasted for more than four minutes, providing Pathirana the opportunity to begin the 16th over.
Former ICC umpire Daryl Harper, recalling the incident, slammed Dhoni’s tactic, accusing him of deliberately wasting time in order to favor his preferred bowling option.
“Dhoni wasted time to allow his preferred bowling option to deliver the vital 16th over. That’s the only conclusion that I can draw from that disappointing spectacle. The issue for me is the lack of respect shown for the spirit of cricket and for the directions of the umpires. There were other [bowling] options for the captain, but they were ignored. Maybe, some people are bigger than the law or in this case, the spirit of cricket. It’s always disappointing to see the lengths that some people will go to in order to win,” Harper said.
Sunil Gavaskar, who was commentating on the match, also questioned the legitimacy of Dhoni’s tactics, emphasizing the importance of accepting the umpire’s decision, even in high-pressure situations. Despite the controversy, CSK emerged victorious, winning the match by 15 runs and securing their place in the IPL final.
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