Matheesha Pathirana, a rising talent from Sri Lanka, has expressed admiration for Chennai Super Kings’ captain, MS Dhoni, attributing the latter’s influence to his growth as a bowler. Over the past few months, the 20-year-old has made remarkable progress, particularly showcasing his prowess during the Indian Premier League for CSK earlier this year.
Pathirana remarked, “When someone of that caliber instills confidence in a young player, it propels your career forward. Believing in my abilities, thanks to a player of his stature, made me feel capable of achieving anything in that very moment.”
Regarding the lessons he gained from the former Indian World Cup-winning captain, Pathirana stated, “Dhoni has imparted numerous insights. The foremost trait is humility, a key factor behind his tremendous success. His enduring fitness at the age of 42 is incredibly inspiring. I joined the team as a youngster, unfamiliar to anyone. The training and guidance I received were invaluable.”
He went on to explain, “I’ve developed a solid understanding of how to perform in T20 matches and how to manage my four overs effectively. Dhoni emphasized that by maintaining my physical well-being, I can contribute significantly to the team and our nation.”
Interestingly, after a match against Mumbai Indians in this year’s IPL, Dhoni offered his perspective that Pathirana should refrain from playing red-ball cricket. Advocating a cautious approach to managing the young Sri Lankan pacer’s workload, Dhoni suggested, “I believe he should focus away from red-ball cricket and limit his participation, perhaps only in ICC tournaments and ODIs, to minimize the strain. His style won’t change much.”
Pathirana, who represents Colombo Strikers in the Lanka Premier League, currently leads the wicket-takers’ list in the ongoing season with 12 scalps.
Drawing parallels to former Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga, a player often likened to Pathirana, his deceptive slinging action is a challenge for batsmen. “I am continually refining my bowling action and skills. Malinga was genuinely pleased upon meeting me because he saw similarities,” noted the player, who is also affectionately dubbed “Baby Malinga.”
Interestingly, Pathirana’s father clarified that his unique bowling action isn’t a result of emulating Malinga. He stated, “While it’s been said that his action resembles Malinga’s, it’s not a deliberate imitation. This was the way he bowled when he first started playing cricket. Diligent training has significantly enhanced his bowling abilities,” the father shared with The Sunday Observer.