CSK VS GT, IPL 2023: Why did Dhoni’s CSK stop play, risk penalty time from umpires before 16th over of Gujarat chase?

Chennai Super Kings trumped defending champion Gujarat Titans by 15 runs in the IPL 2023 Qualifier 1 match to qualify for its 10th IPL final on Tuesday.

MS Dhoni’s men, however, braved some tense passages of play after the Titans threatened to narrow the deficit in a 173-run chase after a slow start.

By the time GT needed 57 from five overs with four wickets in hand, Dhoni had used up the full quota of three – Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana – of his frontline bowlers. Dhoni was left with three overs of Sri Lankan seamer Matheesha Pathirana, who was off the field for nine minutes before the 16th over and two from seamer Tushar Deshpande.

However, on-field umpires Chris Gaffaney and Anil Chaudhary, did not allow Pathirana to resume his bowling duties straightaway due to his brief absence from the field, prompting Dhoni and his CSK teammates to intervene.

While the conversation between the umpires and Dhoni remained unclear, the home side was content to stop play and wait for the next four minutes on the side of the pitch before resuming the play with the Sri Lankan seamer cleared to bowl.

According to IPL’s Playing Conditions, Law 24.2.3 suggests – If a player is absent from the field for longer than 8 minutes, the following restrictions shall apply to their future participation in the match: The player shall not be permitted to bowl in the match until he has either been able to field, or his team has subsequently been batting, for the total length of playing time for which the player was absent (hereafter referred to as Penalty time).

Dhoni’s men bore one minute of Penalty time and proceeded to bowl the Titans out for 157 – the first time in 31 innings that Hardik Pandya’s side was bundled out in the tournament.

While the former India skipper could have opted to resume the game in the 16th over with all-rounder Moeen Ali, Pathirana’s death-bowling prowess was presumed to be worth the risk.

In 26.2 overs in the last five (16-20) overs this season, the pacy slinger has racked up 16 wickets – the most by any bowler – with a superb economy rate of 7.78 and a strike-rate of 9.88, delivering 65 dots.

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