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Captain Cool M S Dhoni Walks Into Controversy

Chennai Super Kings captain M.S. Dhoni has been fined 50 percent of his match fees for entering the field and arguing with the umpires on a no-ball decision in the final over of the match against Rajasthan Royals. According to a media advisory from the IPL, Dhoni admitted to the Level 2 offence 2.20 of the IPL’s Code of Conduct and fined 50% of his match fee.

The Chennai skipper had entered the field after the fourth ball of the last over. It had been called a no-ball - for height - by umpire Ullhas Gandhe at the bowler’s end, but his colleague at square-leg, Bruce Oxenford, begged to differ and the decision had to be reversed and the ball was deemed legal. Revered for his ‘captain cool’ demeanour, Dhoni uncharacteristically lost his composure and rushed out of the dug-out to challenge umpire Ulhas Gandhe following his no-ball flipflop. CSK had reasons to be miffed at the umpire first signalling a noball for height and then reverting it. A skipper walking into the ground in the middle of a match and taking up an issue with the umpires is a serious matter. While some of the umpiring in the ongoing IPL has been abysmal to put it mildly - if this continues, not just IPL but Indian cricket will be affected.

CSK Coach Stephen Fleming came to Dhoni’s rescue stating “My understanding in discussing it with the captain was that there was a no-ball called, and then there was confusion. Our understanding was the umpire at the bowler’s end had called the no-ball, then there was confusion. MS was after some clarity and it didn’t seem to be coming, so he took the opportunity to go out and discuss it with the umpires.”

Other observers were less charitable. Former cricketers came down heavily on Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his on-field argument with umpires, saying the Chennai Super Kings skipper set a wrong precedent with his “bizarre and unbelievable” conduct during the IPL game in Jaipur. While Dhoni was let off with a 50 per cent fine on his match fee, former England captain Michael Vaughan, and ex-Australian cricketers Mark Waugh, Michael Slater and Shaun Tait criticised the CSK skipper for his conduct. “The skipper (Dhoni) coming on to the pitch cannot happen,” a livid Vaughan said. “I know it’s MS Dhoni and he can do anything in this country but you are not allowed to leave the dug out and go and point a finger at the umpire. That’s a complete no-no, you can’t be setting that example as a captain.” Tait, a former Rajasthan Royals pacer, said it was bizarre to see Dhoni storm onto the field. “You don’t walk onto the field. It’s not village cricket or under-10s cricket....I think Dhoni sometimes forgets he’s a player. You’re not an official, you’re a player, you can’t control the officials. It was a really bizarre look,” he was quoted as saying. Michael Slater, who was commentating during the match, was also critical of Dhoni. “You will never see a captain storm out onto the field to have a discussion with the umpires. Unbelievable,” Slater said. Waugh took to twitter to express his disappointment with Dhoni. “I know there’s pressure from owners and big money involved in the IPL but I’ve been very disappointed with the two incidents involving the skippers of their respective teams in Ashwin and MS. Not a good look at all,” he wrote, referring to the ‘Mankading’ of Jos Buttler by Kings XI Punjab skipper R Ashwin.

Former India cricketers Aakash Chopra, Hemang Badani, Deep Dasgupta and Sanjay Manjrekar were also not pleased with Dhoni’s conduct. “That’s not on. He’s got every right to go and speak to the fourth umpire, match referee ... but walking in while the game is on (is wrong),” Dasgupta was quoted as saying. “Just because you feel you’ve been wronged you can’t go and do things which are not permitted.” Manjrekar said Dhoni was lucky to be let off with a fine. “... he was clearly out of line walking out like that. Lucky to get away with just a small fine,” he tweeted. Badani too was surprised by Dhoni’s behaviour. “It was so unlike Captain Cool #RRvCSK,” he wrote on his twitter page. Pragyan Ojha, a leftarm India spinner, pinned the blame on the poor umpiring. “Umpiring this season has deteriorated! Sometimes you feel what do you play for, the cup or the fair play award?” he tweeted.

Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan could relate to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s recent outburst at the umpire during an IPL encounter as he was in former India captain’s shoes exactly 13 months back during an international T20 encounter against Sri Lanka. “I did the same thing in Nidahas Trophy. I can’t make any comments on that,” Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Shakib told reporters. He was referring to a Nidahas Trophy encounter against Sri Lanka where a no-ball decision had irked him, and he wanted his players to pull-out before changing his mind. Once the match was over, there was an ugly altercation between players of the both teams and dressing rooms were damaged. “It happened at the heat of the moment and it shows how passionate you are as a cricketer. How much you want to win for your team,” Shakib tried to rationalise Dhoni’s behaviour which was certainly out of line.

There were also tweets supporting the CSK Captain. One tweet said “One umpire calls no ball the other one declines it. MS Dhoni comes out and exchanges a few words with the umpire. He did the same in Australia too when the third umpire was high on weed. He shows aggression when it is needed. An Absolute Leader”.

According to a source, it was on the word of leg-umpire Bruce Oxenford that the match referee - Prakash Bhatt - decided to keep the sanction to just the deduction of match fee. “When all parties metin the match referee’s room after the game, Oxenford made it clear that he wasn’t offended by the CSK skipper’s act of walking onto the field and having a discussion on the no-ball being reversed,” the source said. While Dhoni has been criticised by the former players, this isn’t the first howler that has come from the Indian umpires in this edition of the IPL. In the game between RCB and Mumbai Indians on March 28, S. Ravi failed to call a no-ball off Lasith Malinga in the final over of the RCB innings. In the post-match ceremony, both RCB skipper Virat Kohli and his MI counterpart Rohit Sharma made their displeasures known.

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