Dhoni's clever act of gamesmanship

M S Dhoni
M S Dhoni played the cards smartly in the first Qualifier. File photo: PTI/ Manvender Vashist Lav

Mumbai: The wily Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday not only guided Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to yet another IPL final but his clever act of gamesmanship by eating valuable minutes allowed his lethal weapon Matheesha Pathirana to bowl the 16th over against Gujarat Titans in first IPL qualifier.

CSK pipped the defending champions Gujarat Titans by 15 runs on their home ground, MA Chidambaram Stadium, to qualify for a record-extending 10th final as the four-time winners finally managed a win over the IPL 2022 winners in four matches.

The incident took place when Pathirana, who returned 4-0-37-2 while accounting for the dangerous Vijay Shankar and Mohammed Shami, was not allowed to bowl his second spell at the death.

The Sri Lankan had left the field in the second half of the Titans' chase for the treatment of an undisclosed niggle. Pathirana had bowled his first, and overall 12th over, in the innings before leaving the field.

As per the IPL playing conditions, any player who leaves the field for more than eight minutes, must be on the field for a similar amount of time after returning, post which he is allowed to bowl.

But as Pathirana returned, he was asked to bowl the 16th over with Gujarat Titans needing another 71 to win from 30 balls, having crawled to 102/6.

According to a report in ESPN Cricinfo, Dhoni noticed umpire Anil Chaudhary having a conversation with Pathirana before the over, and the CSK captain checked with Chris Gaffaney, positioned at square leg, as to what the discussion was about.

The TV commentary, meanwhile, informed that the Sri Lankan was out for nine minutes and the discussion on the field pertained to whether Pathirana could bowl or not.

The report also stated that Dhoni was informed by match officials that Pathirana would have to wait for some more time before he could bowl. The CSK captain acknowledged that he understood, but added that he had no option but to give the ball to Pathirana.

Dhoni was also reminded that CSK could face financial penalty for slow over-rate and in-match penalty of being allowed only four men outside the circle, if the last over does not start in stipulated time.

In all these discussions, the four minutes elapsed and Pathirana was allowed to bowl with permissible time of eight minutes being already over.

While Pathirana didn't get a wicket in that over, he did get a wicket in his very next over, the dangerous Vijay Shankar to tilt the match in CSK's favour. 

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