Playing his maiden IPL game, Matheesha Pathirana made an instant mark as grabbed the wicket of Shubman Gill on his very first delivery in Chennai Super Kings colours on Sunday. The Under-19 bowler from Sri Lanka, who replaced compatriot Maheesh Theekshana, trapped the Titans' opener plumb in front with a delivery that was crashing into the leg stump.
While the pacer had a broad smile after picking up his maiden IPL wicket, fans instantly dubbed him as Lasith Malinga's successor in the T20 league.
Like Malinga, Pathirana also flaunts a slingy action with his bowling arm almost parallel to the surface. He first outfoxed Gill with his unorthodox bowling style and then picked up the prized wicket of Hardik Pandya, who was deceived by a slower delivery to pick a leading edge.
Pathirana, a young 19-year-old pacer, was a part of Sri Lanka's U19 World Cup squads in 2020 and 2022. He was roped in as a replacement for injured Adam Milne, who suffered a hamstring injury in CSK's first match against Kolkata Knight Riders on March 26.
Pathirana also earned praise from Chennai talisman Dhoni, who drew similarities between the youngster and league great Malinga.
"With Pathirana, the margin of error is slim. He's got a good slower one and it will be tough to hit him if he bowls consistent pace. We will look to give people chances," said Dhoni in the post-match presentation.
While Pathirana returned 2/24, Chennai didn't manage to pose threat to Gujarat in their run-chase. Chasing a modest 134 for the win, the IPL newbies overhauled the score with five balls to spare. Wriddiman Saha anchored the chase with 67 off 57 deliveries, which was laced with eight fours and a six.
The Hardik Pandya-led side registered a seven-wicket win to seal a top-two finish in their maiden IPL season. Earlier, Ruturaj Gaikwad top-scored for CSK with 53 runs while N Jagadeesan remained unbeaten on 39 but the defending champions didn't manage to notch up a competitive total on the scoreboard.
Rashid Khan, Alzarri Joseph, and Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore bagged one wicket each while Mohammed Shami snared two for the Titans.