MS Dhoni seemed to have brought the play to a halt ahead of the 16th over of Gujarat Titans' chase, buying a few minutes for Chennai Super Kings pacer Matheesha Pathirana to make him eligible to bowl.
One of the greatest captains of his generation, MS Dhoni has a plan in his head, no matter the situation his team is in, and he will do everything he can to keep his plans on course. During the Qualifier 1 showdown against Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 on Tuesday, MS Dhoni looked to have intentionally stalled the game for about four minutes, just to ensure that Matheesha Pathirana became eligible to bowl again. The play had come to a halt before the start of the 16th over, with Dhoni involved in a debate with the on-field officials.
Dhoni wanted to bowl Pathirana in the 16th over but the officials informed the CSK skipper that the Sri Lankan wasn't eligible as he had been off the field longer than he was on it. The Thala didn't want to change his plans, hoping to give Pathirana the 16th, 18th, and 20th overs.
He was then involved in a lengthy debate with the umpires, and some CSK players also joined him as there was no play possible for around 4 minutes.
Reacting to the incident, Sunil Gavaskar said in the commentary box: “You accept the umpire's decision. Even if the umpire gets it wrong sometimes in high-pressure situations.”
For Guajrat Titans, Vijay Shankar and Rashid Khan were in the middle when the incident took place. The duo couldn't do much as Dhoni seemed to have intentionally decided to halt play until Pathirana became eligible to bowl.
"I think he (Pathirana) was out (of the field) for a bit and had little time to still make up. So I think the game slowed down there," Vijay Shankar said at the post-match presser.
"I don't know, I went there to get some gossip (laughs) but didn't get it," said Ruturaj Gaikwad who was one of the CSK players surrounding Dhoni.
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When Pathirana came onto the field to bowl, he completed his quota of overs and also got the wicket of Shankar.
The over-rate penalty wasn't a big problem for Dhoni who wanted to execute his plans to perfection and book a spot in the final. CSK ended up doing so, securing a 15-run victory over the defending champions.