Play was stalled for several minutes towards the end of the IPL 2023 Qualifier One today (May 23), as Chennai Super Kings players engaged with umpires until enough time had elapsed for Matheesha Pathirana to bowl.

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The incident happened before the start of the 16th over of Gujarat Titans’ chase. At that point, the match was all but sewn up, with Gujarat 102-6 and still needing 71 runs from the final 30 ball of their innings. CSK had posted 172-7 batting first.

Pathirana had been introduced to the game as Chennai’s impact player in the first over of the second innings. Previously to the 16th, he had bowled just one over in the contest and conceded ten runs from it and bowled four wides. Following that over, Pathirana left the field for nine minutes before rejoining the action.

When MS Dhoni called upon him to bowl once more, the umpires realised as he was about to set off on his run-up that there were still four minutes left on the clock before Pathirana could play an active part in the match. Players who have left the field of play must wait the same amount of time that elapsed when they were off the field before they bowl or bat again.

Nevertheless, Dhoni and the rest of the CSK side gathered around the umpires to dispute the decisions. By the time the conversation ended, the four extra minutes Pathirana needed to wait before bowling had passed, and he could start his over.

On commentary, pundits questioned the legitimacy of the seemingly time-wasting tactics.

“The stoppage was four mins,” said Harsha Bhogle. “Surely that doesn’t make sense to me, there has to be an explanation. if he came in at four mins left, the clock should stop and someone else should be bowling.”

“You accept the umpire’s decision,” said Sunil Gavaskar. “Even if the umpire gets it wrong sometimes in high-pressure situations.”

“Chris Gaffaney is an ICC Elite Panel umpire,” replied Bhogle. “He shouldn’t be accepting that.”

When Pathirana did bowl his over, he conceded 19 runs from it and bowled two wides. Rashid Khan hit back-to-back boundaries off his fourth and fifth deliveries including a six over long on.

The delay meant the CSK’s over-rate took a hit and they were unable to complete their bowling innings within their time limit. As a result, CSK had to move a fielder out of the inner ring for the final over of the match. Given that Gujarat Titans required 27 runs off the final over with one wicket remaining, this was of almost no consequence to them.

Chennai Super Kings won the match by 15 runs and secured their place in Sunday’s (May 28) final.