DUBAI: Cricket fans have slammed icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni for apparently bullying umpire Paul Reiffel into changing a wide call during an Indian Premier League game.
The incident occurred on Tuesday when Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings pacer Shardul Thakur bowled outside the off stump of Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman Rashid Khan.
Umpire Reiffel, who played 35 Tests for Australia before retiring, appeared to start the signal for a wide — both arms outstretched at shoulder height — when Dhoni began protesting.
Reiffel then seemed to change his mind midway through the signal and the ball went down as legitimate in the crucial penultimate over of Hyderabad’s unsuccessful chase of 168.
Commentator Ian Bishop, a former West Indian international, said on ESPNcricinfo that Reiffel had erred.
“He started calling it a wide, he looked up, saw Dhoni and he changed his mind,” Bishop said.
“I am someone who is sympathetic to the umpires because it is a difficult job, but tonight I will say that Reiffel made a mistake.”
Hyderabad captain David Warner also seemed visibly unhappy from the dugout of the Dubai stadium in the United Arab Emirates.
The match saw Chennai bounce back from two losses to win by 20 runs and draw level with Hyderabad on six points in the eight-team table.
But Dhoni’s action did not go down well on social media.
“Such a mockery of game, pathetic! Dhoni keeps bullying umpires and gets away with it. I have just lost count of it,” one cricket fan wrote on Twitter.
Such a mockery of game, pathetic! Dhoni keeps bullying umpires and gets away with it. I have just lost count of it.… https://t.co/kSj6eKsvUh
— 🕸 (@VIRATs_SPideR) 1602612122000
Others criticised Reiffel for apparently succumbing to pressure from Dhoni.
“Weak umpiring! Sad to see an Elite umpire bogging down by the stature of a cricketer,” said another Twitter user.
@ICC @BCCI @SGanguly99 How will you justify an Elite umpire Mr. Paul Reiffel’s error??? Is this kind of bullying al… https://t.co/cCqgdZi7D2
— Bhautik Mehta (@bhautik_pm) 1602658470000
Last year Dhoni was fined 50 percent of his match fee after he stormed onto the field during a tense IPL game to contest an umpiring call.
The cricket laws state: “An umpire may alter any decision provided that such alteration is made promptly.”