Have Trust, Give Confidence – Theekshana Reveals How Dhoni Makes CSK Champions

Maheesh Theekshana credited #Dhoni for Shivam Dube's growth, revealing how #CSK is different from other franchises.

5 min read
Hindi Female

In only his debut appearance at the International League T20 (ILT20), held in the United Arab Emirates, Maheesh Theekshana proved himself as a valuable addition to Sharjah Warriors’ squad, picking up four wickets against Gulf Giants on 19 January.

Theekshana, the 23-year-old off-spinner from Sri Lanka, has been a player much sought-after in franchise cricket over the last couple of years, courtesy of his performances for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Signed for only Rs 70 lakh ahead of the 2022 season, Theekshana has since scalped 23 wickets for the MS Dhoni-led team, playing a crucial role in the team’s title triumph in 2023.

Now, he is aiming to replicate his influence in the ILT20, and considering how he has started his campaign – six wickets in two matches – he is on track. 

Besides his skills, what is helping Theekshana in this competition? Not the tracks or conditions, but as it turns out, the colour of Sharjah’s jersey – yellow. In a conversation with The Quint, Theekshana spoke about Dhoni and CSK’s influence on his career, his weight loss journey, and his ILT20 aspirations.

Here are the excerpts:


Your career had a meteoric rise after you joined Chennai Super Kings. Do you feel CSK have had a big role to play in your journey?

Of course, Chennai Super Kings has played a big role in my career. And it is not only restricted to the IPL. I played for their Johannesburg franchise (Johannesburg Super Kings) in the SA20. I also had the chance to join their USA franchise Texas Super Kings, but unfortunately, I could not get the NOC (No Objection Certificate) for that. It is always a great feeling to play for Chennai Super Kings, with the loyalty they show and the confidence they give. Now that I am playing for Sharjah Warriors, I am very happy that I am getting to play in yellow again – the colour of CSK.

What is it about MS Dhoni that makes him such a good leader?

Dhoni gives you the confidence you need as a player. He has one hundred per cent trust in the players he selects. He tells us to play to our strengths and backs every player.


So, will you say imparting confidence is Dhoni’s biggest strength?

Yes, I think so. Look at what Shivam Dube did in the last series (India’s three-match T20I series against Afghanistan). This is what makes Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings special – they give you the confidence to do well. You will not get it from every franchise.

The ICC U19 World Cup is currently ongoing in South Africa. You were supposed to play in the 2018 edition, but could not, owing to fitness issues. You were deemed overweight. Can you tell us about that phase of your career?

I was about to give up cricket totally, at that point. Not many know about this, but I won the Sri Lankan Best All-Rounder award in 2018. I had scored 800 runs and picked up 85 wickets in that season. After that, I had an unfortunate injury, but when I came back, I was nowhere in the picture. I was not considered only.

I thought I would quit professional cricket and only play as a part-timer, because that phase was not easy for me and my family. My fitness was not up to the mark in 2017, and I admitted it. But in 2018, I lost 27 kgs. I did everything possible to make it to the U19 World Cup, but I was not selected.

But ultimately, I am happy that I did not give up cricket and continued playing. Now I am here, but only a few players from that U19 team played for the national team.


What do you consider to be the turning point in your career?

I think the turning point in my career was joining the Army Cricket Club in Sri Lanka. I was playing for the Colts Cricket Club, but Thisara Perera called me to play for the Army. At that time, I was not doing well in the financial aspect. But playing for the Army meant a salary was assured, like every other government job.

Thisara helped me later on in my career as well. In the first season of the Lanka Premier League (LPL), I was not even a part of the draft list. But he invited me to play for his team, and I got to play one game. Then I went to play in the Abu Dhabi T10, and straightaway was called into the Sri Lankan national team.

It has been a fantastic start for you at the ILT20 – a four-fer on your debut. How are you feeling?

Yes, it was a really good start for me in the International League T20 (ILT20) with the Capri Sport-owned Sharjah Warriors. It was also my first match in this tournament, because I didn’t play here last year. So, to get four wickets on the first match was great.


You have Sri Lankan teammates Kusal Mendis and Dilshan Madushanka in Sharjah Warriors. Other Sri Lankan players are also a part of the league. Do you think playing in franchise leagues can help revive Sri Lankan cricket?

Yes, I do think so. All these Sri Lankan players who are now playing in the different franchise leagues – they are gaining experience which can later prove to be very useful. I think playing franchise cricket is beneficial for every cricketer.

You are among the rare spinners who bowl with the new ball in T20s. How did you master this trait?

I am a defensive bowler, so I think bowling with the new ball suits me. In the powerplay, I remain defensive and bowl according to my field, but the batters are trying to hit boundaries in every ball. Sometimes, they are bound to play the wrong shots, so I get wickets. I feel, for a spinner, being defensive gets more wickets in T20 cricket.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  ms dhoni   IPL   Indian Premier League 

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