DUBAI: Cricket fans have slammed icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni for apparently bullying umpire Paul Reiffel into changing a wide call during an Indian Premier League game. The incident occurred Tuesday when Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings paceman Shardul Thakur bowled outside the off stump of Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman Rashid Khan. Umpire Reiffel, who played 35 Tests for Australia before retiring, appeared to start the signal for a wide – both arms outstretched at shoulder height – when Dhoni began protesting. Reiffel then seemed to change his mind midway through the signal and the ball went down as legitimate in the crucial penultimate over of Hyderabad’s unsuccessful chase of 168.
Commentator Ian Bishop, a former West Indian international, said on ESPNcricinfo that Reiffel had erred. “He started calling it a wide, he looked up, saw Dhoni and he changed his mind,” Bishop said. “I am someone who is sympathetic to the umpires because it is a difficult job, but tonight I will say that Reiffel made a mistake.” Hyderabad captain David Warner also seemed visibly unhappy from the dugout of the Dubai stadium in the United Arab Emirates. The match saw Chennai bounce back from two losses to win by 20 runs and draw level with Hyderabad on six points in the eight-team table.
But Dhoni’s action did not go down well on social media. “Such a mockery of game, pathetic! Dhoni keeps bullying umpires and gets away with it. I have just lost count of it,” one cricket fan wrote on Twitter. Others criticized Reiffel for apparently succumbing to pressure from Dhoni. “Weak umpiring! Sad to see an Elite umpire bogging down by the stature of a cricketer,” said another Twitter user. Last year Dhoni was fined 50 percent of his match fee after he stormed onto the field during a tense IPL game to contest an umpiring call. The cricket laws state: “An umpire may alter any decision provided that such alteration is made promptly.”
Dhoni hails Curran
In another development, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni Tuesday hailed Sam Curran as a “complete cricketer” for Chennai Super Kings after the England all-rounder played a key part in the team’s much-needed IPL win. The 22-year-old Curran hit 31 after opening the batting and then returned figures of 1-18 from his three overs of left-arm pace bowling as Chennai bounced back from two losses to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 20 runs in Dubai. Curran, a left-hand batsman who was brought by Chennai for $742,000, gave the team a brisk start in his 21-ball knock before Shane Watson, who scored 42 coming one down, and Ambati Rayudu (41) guided the team to 167 for six.
Curran then shared the new ball with Deepak Chahar to breakthrough with the big wicket of skipper David Warner, caught and bowled for nine, as Hyderabad managed just 147-8. “Curran is a complete cricketer for us and you need that seaming allrounder. He strikes the ball nicely, he can bat up the order, he plays spinners well,” Dhoni said of his team’s youngest member. “He can give us those 15-45 runs if you need momentum. I feel as the tournament progresses, he’ll get even more comfortable with death bowling. That’s one of the reasons we kept him away at the death.”
Dwayne Bravo bowled the final over of the match and returned figures of 2-25 as Chennai moved level with Hyderabad on six points from eight games in a tough first half of the Twenty20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates. Curran, younger brother of Tom Curran who plays for Rajasthan Royals, has proved his worth for three-time IPL winners Chennai while batting in the top, middle and lower order. “In terms of his contribution so far it has exceeded, I think, what we wanted. Probably not in his eyes because he is very competitive,” Chennai coach Stephen Fleming told reporters in the post-match virtual chat.
“Every time he has had the challenge he has risen to it. He has been desperate to make a difference and I think we saw a glimpse today of what he can do for us in the future.” Ravindra Jadeja also contributed with an unbeaten 25 off 10 balls and returned to take the key wicket of England’s Jonny Bairstow, bowled for 23, with his left-arm spin. “This was one game as close to perfect as possible. One or two overs we could have been slightly better, but it was a very good game,” said Dhoni. New Zealand’s Kane Williamson struck 57 off 39 deliveries but his first half-century of the season went in vain as Hyderabad kept losing wickets.- Agencies