It’s just the fourth game in IPL 2019 and it’s already in controversy for the ‘mankading’ of Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals by R Ashwin of Kings XI Punjab. The dismissal led to heated exchanges between Buttler and Ashwin. The dismissal saw Royals losing momentum – 7 wickets for 16 runs – and eventually the match by 14 runs.
Till that dismissal, Buttler was leading Royals’ chase with 43-ball 69. A furious Buttler walked out of the ground gesturing at one of the dugouts. He did not look at Ashwin while the customary hand-shakes post match.
The dismissal, however, left a bad taste in Royals’ camp as they could not digest the controversial mankading of Buttler.
Was R Ashwin right in mankading Buttler? Was it in the spirit of the game? Was it within the rules?
Ashwin thinks so and says it was an instinctive decision. In the post-match presentation, he said, “I don’t understand where the spirit of the game comes, naturally if it’s there in the rules it’s there.”
But ask Buttler, and Royals fans, Ashwin will no more be in their good books and the second leg at Punjab’s home ground will be keenly fought for reasons other than bagging 2 pts for the respective team.
The mankading rules have undergone sea change since it was first attempted in 1947.
So, what is mankading?
Before releasing the ball and completing his usual delivery swing, if a bowler runs out the batsman at the non-striker’s end who has moved out of the crease, then the batsman is said to have been mankaded.
This mode of dismissal is named after former Indian player Vinoo Mankad who dismissed Australian Bill Brown in this fashion during the Sydney Test of 1947. Mankad had earlier dismissed Brown in the similar fashion in the same tour during a match against Australian XI. Mankad had warned Brown on that occasion before running him out. Expectedly, this type of dismissal received great flak from all quarters during the tour. Australian media accused Mankad of being unsportsmanlike.
What the updated Law 41.16 says?
“If the non-striker is out of his/her ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him/her out.”
The law is subject to discussion and the third umpire ruled Buttler out.
It was not that Ashwin has given a warning to Buttler for backing up too far. In this case, Buttler was not even looking at the bowler Ashwin when he was mankaded or he was backing up too far ahead of the ball release. Hence, he was in his right to get angry and cry poor sportsman’s spirit.
It may be recalled Courtney Walsh of West Indies has once refused to mankad Pakistan’s last batsman Saleem Jaffar in 1987 World Cup clash and let him off with a warning. West Indies went on to lose the match by one wicket.
But Ashwin suggests two incidents and two persons cannot be compared. “What applies for one man does not apply for everyone else,” he said.
Ashwin may be right on his stance and played within the rules, but what if instead of Buttler, it was a tailender, would the KXIP skipper still would have gone ahead with the dismissal. Knowing how Buttler’s wicket is crucial for a win, Ashwin would not have let this chance go begging, even if he has to repeat it.
And yes, Ashwin has done it before. Ashwin had mankaded Lahiru Thirimanne of Sri Lanka in an ODI in 2012. But then skipper Virender Sehwag withdrew the appeal but stated Ashwin has warned the Sri Lankan batsman before mankading him.
Even Buttler has been mankaded before. Buttler was dismissed in a similar fashion by Sachithra Senanayake of Sri Lanka in a game in 2012.
Although Ashwin would feel justified in effecting the dismissal, and Buttler would feel bitter for feeling cheated, and done with unsportsmanlike behaviour from the Punjab skipper, the fact is that this type of dismissal will continue to rankle the victims while the prepetrators would feel they have enacted well within the rules of the game.
But what if it happens in a final or in a crucial play-off encounter in IPL?
It has happened before in a crucial do-or-die clash in 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup. Keemo Paul of West Indies mankaded Zimbabwean last batsman Richard Ngarava to win the match and help his team qualify for quarterfinals. West Indies went on to win the title. Even then Keemo Paul was said to have affected the dismissal within the rules of the game. But Keemo and West Indies were criticised for lacking sportsman’s spirit.
If it happens in IPL knockouts, it’s going to strain the relationship between players and franchises. And like how it happened in RR vs KXIP encounter, the dismissal has the potential to shift the momentum of the game.
Hence, the debate will rage on whether Ashwin was within the spirit of the game or unfairly took advantage of a debatable mode of dismissals.