The Chennai Super Kings entered their tenth final in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday night when they beat defending champions Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1 of the 2023 edition. The side defended a 173-run target in Chennai, bowling the Titans out for 157 in exactly 20 overs. The game, however, saw a controversy during the final overs of the Titans’ run-chase, surrounding CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and their young Sri Lankan pacer, Matheesha Pathirana.
The game was halted for many minutes before the 16th over of the Titans innings. Dhoni had decided to hand the ball to Pathirana for the over; however, the umpires denied the Sri Lankan pacer from bowling as he was out of the field for four minutes, and required to serve a particular period of time back in the field to ensure he could bowl again.
Interestingly, the umpires didn’t ask Dhoni to hand over the ball to some other bowler and the CSK captain, too, was happy to wait out the time till Pathirana could become eligible to bowl.
While many fans claimed that the umpires should’ve been more strict in handling the situation, Manjrekar, when asked about the incident, stated that it was “desperation” on Dhoni’s part to wait for Pathirana’s eligibilty, even if it meant CSK could’ve been slapped with a slow over-rate penalty in the final over.
“We don’t know exactly what happened. He was away for 9 (four) minutes, and (we don’t know) whether the time when they had conversation was counted or not. On the field, time is also counted when the game is actually played. Maybe, MS thought that it would work in his favour,” Manjrekar told ESPNCricinfo.
“I felt today, MS was desperate. He knew that the way Rashid Khan was playing, he had to give the ball to someone who he could believe in. It could be tactical,” the former India batter added.
The decision didn’t hurt CSK, though; even as Pathirana gave away 13 runs in the over, the Super Kings successfully denied Titans a shot at the target as Vijay Shankar was dismissed in the very next over by Tushar Deshpande. When it came down to the final over, the Titans still required 27 runs to win, and Rashid Khan was already dismissed in the previous over.