'Don't play red-ball cricket' - MS Dhoni's unique advice for this young CSK seamer
MS Dhoni may have hardly ever made public any suggestion given to a youngster during his successful India captaincy tenure, but on Saturday (May 6), as the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper, he picked out one of his first-choice pacers for a unique advice on how to take his career forward.
Relishing an important league stage triumph over arch-rivals Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL 2023, the legendary captain heaped deserved praise on unorthodox CSK seamer Matheesha Pathirana and hurled his way a suggestion that may sound off-putting to the traditionalists on the outside but one that may allow the youngster to serve Sri Lanka for a long time to come.
Pathirana continued his fruitful association with the four-time champions with a superlative performance in the comprehensive win over MI, coming out with exceptional figures of 3/15 off his 4 overs in the game's decisive first half. The cricketer was later awarded the 'Player of the Match' and got his great captain raving over his prospects with an interesting detail.
For Dhoni, for Sri Lanka to ensure that their young slingy bowler, who is called the 'Malinga moniker' on the outside, is able to play and sustain himself at the highest level, they should keep the 20-year-old away from any red-ball cricket.
MS Dhoni's interesting suggestion to Matheesha Pathirana
While the traditional understanding says playing first-class cricket over a stretch allows pacers to build their rhythm and stamina and horn their skills to develop into robust products, MS Dhoni reckons Pathirana would be better off not going down that path and keep maximising his strengths - unique action, unorthodox release points and skiddy pace - in white-ball cricket.
The skipper's idea being that since batters have more time up their sleeves to watch the release points and adjust their bat swings in Tests and first-class cricket, it would tame the wings for a bowler of Pathirana's kind, whose greatest strengths are accentuated in value and impact by the fast-paced nature of T20.
"People who don't have very clean (conventional) action, batsmen have a difficult time picking it and when trying to go after the bowler. But his consistency, variation, pace makes him special," Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"What's important is to keep an eye on how much cricket he is playing. I feel he should not play red-ball cricket, not even get close to it, even play only ICC tournaments with ODIs and keep the rest as less as possible, because he's not someone who'll change a lot. This is what he'll do," he added.