Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming conceded that Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be questioned for his “unusual” confrontation with umpires over a no-ball but defended the skipper’s actions by saying that he was merely seeking “clarity”. In a rare instance, Dhoni, who was not even meant to be on the field of play, lost his cool and rushed out of the dugout to challenge umpire Ulhas Gandhe after he flip-flopped on a no-ball during the IPL match against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday night.
“He was certainly fired up the way the decision was handled and why it was overturned. It was a lack of clarity, obviously from him and he wanted to get it clarified at a key moment,” Fleming said in the post-match press conference. “It is unusual, he is generally pretty calculative, so it is something that he will be questioned about I am sure for a long time.”
The incident happened in the fourth ball of the last over when Ben Stokes bowled a waist high full toss to Mitchell Santner. Initially, it looked as if Gandhe was about to signal a no-ball only to decide otherwise.
Dhoni, who was dismissed off the previous delivery, lost his cool at the incident and walked onto the field of play and took the umpire head on. He was seen angrily gesturing at Gandhe before leg umpire Bruce Oxenford asked Dhoni to leave.
The former India captain, however, escaped a ban and was let off with a 50 percent fine on his match fee.
“…there was confusion. Our understanding was that the umpire at the bowler’s end called a no-ball and then there was confusion around whether there was no-ball or not,” Fleming said.
“MS was after some clarity and it didn’t seem to be coming, so he took the opportunity to go out and discuss with the umpires. That’s how I saw it and that’s how I discussed with him afterward. “I can’t say whether it was right or not. What wasn’t right was the confusion around the decision. It is above my pay grade early to go further than that.”
CSK went on to win the match after Santner smashed a six off the last ball to power the team to a four-wicket win.
The controversy overshadowed Dhoni’s achievement of registering his 100th win as IPL captain. The victory took Chennai to the top of the table with 12 points in seven games.
“Firstly, a 100 wins is great, secondly Dhoni as captain is very successful, Dhoni as a player is outstanding. They are both very closely related,” Fleming said.
Talking about the concerns after the victory, Fleming said they would like to look into aspects like fielding.
“…our top order is playing on tough wicket in Chennai so we are going to make sure that their confidence is high. Finishing off an innings and death bowling has been hard. We also have to work hard on our fielding. We know a number of holes but we know and we are trying to cover them up,” said Fleming.
On veteran Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh’s omission for this match, Fleming revealed that the off-spinner was nursing a niggle and not fit for the game.
Chennai will next take on Kolkata Knight Riders on April 14.