ANI Photo | Matheesha Pathirana: Have CSK found their new death overs specialist?

Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana has been a revelation for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, with some amazing death overs spells to his name.
The Lankan pacer has represented his nation in a solitary T20I match. But his time with CSK could very kick his cricketing journey into another gear.
The two reasons are his, sling-like action reminiscent of legendary compatriot Lasith Malinga, which has earned him the nickname of ‘Baby Malinga’. The second reason is his ability to deliver in death overs and stop the run flow with his deadly yorkers and pace.
This season, Pathirana has taken 12 wickets in death overs (16th to 20th overs), the most by any bowler in IPL 2023. He has done so while being amazingly cheap with the ball, having an economy rate of 7.86.
CSK’s Tushar Deshpande has 10 death over wickets and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)’s Harshal Patel has nine, coming at economy rates of 12.49 and 11.24.
In eight matches, Pathirana has taken 13 wickets at an average of 18.84 and an economy rate of 7.81. His best bowling figures are 3/15.
His heroics with the ball, especially in final overs has earned him a lot of acclaim from fans and cricketing fraternity. MS Dhoni, CSK’s skipper has taken upon himself the role of grooming this youngster as a key asset for Sri Lankan cricket and has often been heard praising the bowlers after the match during interviews.
After the match against Mumbai Indians, Dhoni had said that Pathirana’s action makes him hard to pick up. He said that he would prefer if Pathirana does not play red-ball cricket and plays in all ICC tournaments.
“People who do not have a very clean action, batters find it difficult to pick them. It is not the pace or variations, but the consistency. I would prefer him not to play red-ball cricket and play all the ICC tournaments, he would be a great asset for Sri Lanka. He was slightly lean last season and has added muscle this season,” said Dhoni about his pacer in the post-match presentation.
Malinga, currently associated with the coaching set-up of Rajasthan Royals, is also very high on Pathirana, who is being touted as his successor.
Following CSK’s match with RCB back on April 17, Malinga had tweeted, “Impressive stuff Matheesha Loved the way you handled the pressure at the death. Excellent execution @matheesha_9 #RCBvCSK #IPL2023.”
It seems Malinga also enjoyed the youngster’s bowling against MI on May 6, tweeting, “I see continuous improvement from Matheesha. Good gas Better control @matheesha_9| #IPL2O23.”
It would be interesting to see how much Pathirana progresses under MS’s leadership and guidance. Only time would tell if the ‘Baby Malinga’ tag is only for hype or if it gets proper justification. (ANI)

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