Former cricketers came down heavily on Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his on-field argument with umpires, saying the Chennai Super Kings skipper set a wrong precedent with his "bizarre and unbelievable" conduct during the IPL game.
Revered for his 'captain cool' demeanour, Dhoni uncharacteristically lost his composure and rushed out of the dugout to challenge umpire Ulhas Gandhe following his no-ball flip-flop during an IPL match against Rajasthan Royals Thursday night.
While Dhoni was let off with a 50 per cent fine on his match fee, former England captain Michael Vaughan, and ex-Australian cricketers Mark Waugh, Michael Slater and Shaun Tait criticised the CSK skipper for his conduct.
"The skipper (Dhoni) coming on to the pitch cannot happen," a livid Vaughan said.
"I know it's MS Dhoni and he can do anything in this country but you are not allowed to leave the dugout and go and point a finger at the umpire. That's a complete no-no, you can't be setting that example as a captain."
Tait, a former Rajasthan Royals pacer, said it was bizarre to see Dhoni storm onto the field.
"You don't walk onto the field. It's not village cricket or under-10s cricket...I think Dhoni sometimes forgets he's a player. You're not an official, you're a player, you can't control the officials. It was a really bizarre scenario," he was quoted as saying by news.Com.Au.
Michael Slater, who was commentating during the match, was also critical of Dhoni.
"You will never see a captain storm out onto the field to have a discussion with the umpires. Unbelievable," Slater said.
Waugh took to Twitter to express his disappointment with Dhoni.
"I know there's pressure from owners and big money involved in the IPL but I've been very disappointed with the two incidents involving the skippers of their respective teams in Ashwin and MS. Not a good look at all," he wrote, referring to the 'Mankading' of Jos Buttler by Kings XI Punjab skipper R Ashwin.
Former Indian cricketers Aakash Chopra, Hemang Badani, Deep Dasgupta and Sanjay Manjrekar were also not pleased with Dhoni's conduct.
"That's not on. He's got every right to go and speak to the fourth umpire, match referee ... But walking in while the game is on (is wrong)," Dasgupta was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
"Just because you feel you've been wronged you can't go and do things which are not permitted."
Chopra slammed the poor standard of umpiring but also criticised Dhoni for setting a wrong precedent.
"Umpiring standards have been pretty low in this #IPL and that was a no-ball given and reversed. Enough to feel crossed and miffed. But the opposition captain has no right to walk out on the pitch after being dismissed. Dhoni set a wrong precedent tonight," Chopra wrote in his twitter handle.
Manjrekar said Dhoni was lucky to be let off with a fine.
"... He was clearly out of line walking out like that. Lucky to get away with just a small fine," he tweeted.
Badani too was surprised by Dhoni's behaviour.
"It was so unlike Captain Cool #RRvCSK," he wrote on his Twitter page.
Pragyan Ojha, a left-arm India spinner, pinned the blame on the poor umpiring.
"Umpiring this season has deteriorated! Some times you feel what do you play for, the cup or the fair play award?" he tweeted.
CSK eventually went on to win the match, giving Dhoni his 100th IPL victory as captain of Chennai Super Kings, who are now sitting atop the points table with 12 points in seven games.
CSK will next take on Kolkata Knight Riders on April 14.