"Get vaccinated and join CSK"- Here's how MS Dhoni noticed a rare 17-year-old talent in 2020 and gave him CSK Cap
After a poor performance in the TATA IPL 2022, the four-time champion Chennai Super Kings have made a promising start to the 16th edition of the league. They are ranked third on the points table with three wins out of five games and a NRR of +0.265.
Even in the last game against RCB, Chennai ended up winning a high-scoring thriller by just eight runs. Batting first, CSK posted the second-highest score in 2023 of 226/6 in the first inning. Chasing the target, RCB looked in total control, but eventually, CSK bowlers helped them get a close win.
Tushar Deshpande was the pick of the bowlers with 3/45 in the high-scoring game. But Matheesha Pathirana was another bowler who impressed everyone. The 20-year-old, who is known for his slingy bowling action like Sri Lankan legend Lasith Malinga, gave only four runs in the 18th over and followed it up with a wicket of the dangerous Suyash Prabhudessai in the final over to defend the total.
Pathirana was part of the CSK team in the 2022 season as well and took two wickets in the two games he played. The match against RCB was his first game this season, but he held his nerve and helped the team win.
Pathirana, who made his mark in the 2020 U19 World Cup, could have joined CSK much earlier. According to the media report by the Indian Express, Bilal Fassy, who helped set the cricketing structure at Trinity College, where the fast-bowler trains, disclosed that MSD also contacted Pathirana in 2020.
Fessy said, "He was only 17 or 18 then, and it was peak of the pandemic when Dhoni wrote a letter asking Pathirana to get vaccinated and join the team in the UAE. One of his videos of him demolishing the batsmen with yorkers had gone viral then and that’s when even the Super Kings showed interest in him. The video that Dhoni saw was not from a first-class game or something, but from a school tournament against (Sanath) Jayasuriya’s school."