Chennai Super Kings and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni consistently encourages vibrant talent, and Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana has been one similar find this year. Dhoni was the one who noticed the 20-year-old and brought him into the CSK fold early on. Even when Pathirana let up a boundary off the final ball of a match in Chepauk earlier this season, Dhoni was the first to put his arm around the young pacer.
Pathirana, whose bowling action is identical to that of former Mumbai Indians and Lankan icon Lasith Malinga, has lived up to Dhoni’s expectations by capturing 17 wickets in 11 fixtures, thereby assisting his team to thrilling wins. The CSK legend has paid close attention to Pathirana, and used him brilliantly throughout the games. Though he still gives away wides and extras, Pathirana has emerged as a wicket-taking bowler for CSK.
Before leaving Chennai for the all-important summit clash in Ahmedabad, Dhoni met with Pathirana’s family after winning Qualifier 1 against the defending champions Gujarat Titans. The pacer’s sister Vishuka shared pictures on Instagram and captioned it beautifully, revealing what Dhoni said when he met the family.
“Now we are sure that malli is in safe hands when thala said “You have nothing to worry about Matheesha, he’s always with me”. These moments were even beyond what I had ever dreamt of,” she captioned.
‘Pathirana is an excellent death bowler’: Dhoni
In qualifier 1, Hardik Pandya won the toss and put CSK to bat first. Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad top-scored with a 44-ball 60 as Chennai Super Kings compiled a challenging 172/7. GT were all out for 157 in 20 overs while chasing. Shubman Gill (42) appeared to be in terrific form, but none of the other batters were able to get going. Rashid Khan (30) made a late try but was eventually dismissed.
Pathirana bowled well as he registered 2/37 in four overs. After the game, the CSK skipper lauded his efforts and his growth, while praising the youngster for his contributions towards the team this season.
“Pathirana is an excellent death bowler. Also, with his action, it is slightly difficult to pick. He has got that slower one also. So you have to watch him very carefully. Which means when you spend those extra seconds watching the ball and he is bowling at a decent pace, it becomes quite difficult to consistently hit him,” Dhoni said during the post-match presentation.