Within a year of that defeat, the CSK boys came across footage of a Sri Lankan schoolboy Matheesha Pathiranaman of the match against the Mumbai Indians on Saturday with his 3/15.
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The Kandy boy, then 17, was playing school cricket and the footage made available to CSK support staff captivated the recruiting team.
“Pathirana looked raw but had the pace … We wanted him as a net bowler but didn’t get permission from Sri Lankan cricketa CSK source said.
But knowing skipper MS Dhoni’s fascination for good bowlers with bizarre action, CSK didn’t give up the chase. It didn’t take long for Pathirana to break through the ranks and after T20 spells in Lankan leagues, he was playing T10 cricket in Abu Dhabi where CSK support staff members were also present.
“Dwayne Bravo, also the current bowling coach at CSK, was playing in the league and everyone agreed he was a prospect. When Adam Milne was injured during the 2022 IPL, we decided to draft him,” the source added.
It was only after Pathirana joined the CSK lineup in 2022 that skipper Dhoni saw him. He immediately liked him, but it didn’t take long for the captain to understand that he needed to be handled with care.
“Pathirana was not played right away, but was taken care of by the coaching staff… We dealt with him in a couple of matches, but the team management thought they had a match-winner in their ranks, provided he comes handled with care”. the source added.
Pathirana has since made great strides in international cricket and has made a huge impact for CSK this season. With his lethal yorkers, the 20-year-old has been hard to hit on death and has become an automatic selection for the team as they push for a play-off spot.
But Dhoni is already looking ahead. He knows Pathirana’s action is unconventional – he puts a huge amount of stress on his right shoulder while bowling – and on Sunday the captain asked SLC to keep him away from red ball cricket and even ODIs.
“This is a suggestion that Dhoni has made and it is up to SLC if they want to take note… Our team’s physio and coach are taking care of his body so that he doesn’t get injured,” the official said. added.
The ball is now in SLC’s court to help their future spearhead have a long career.