Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin controversially ‘Mankading Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals at a critical juncture of their Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Monday is not the first dismissal of the kind and wont be the last, even if the law is amended with safeguards.
Clearly it was a desperate move on the part of Ashwin at a time when the match appeared slipping out of Kings’ grasp. He had to do something to stop the rampaging Butler, who was going great guns, having scored 69 off 43 balls. Royals were cruising as they needed 77 runs off 43 balls and that’s achievable in a Twenty20 game.
After Buttler’s dismissal the angry Englishman was followed by a Royal procession as the Jaipur-based franchise lost seven wickets for 22 runs to lose the match by 14 runs.
Though the Mankading dismissals are few and far between, this is the first in the most highly paid popular global league and naturally it raised a stink.
Buttler appears to be a sequential offender as this is the second time he had got Mankaded. Five years ago, Sri Lankan spinner Sachithra Senanayake got him out in a similar fashion in a One-Day International for backing up too far before the ball was delivered.
Expectedly, most Indians defended Ashwin, citing the rules of the game, while the English veterans are livid with the off-spinner, invoking the spirit of the game.
All the commentators, however, have a rider. They all want to know whether Ashwin warned Buttler as the spirit warranted. But the rule is clear, that a warning is only in the spirit of the game but it is not in the law.
Ashwin was prepared for the backlash and said the dismissal was instinctive and not a planned one.
He reeled off his lines in post-match media conference without any guilt or remorse, he was straight and curt:
“On my part, it was very instinctive and it was not planned or anything like that.”
“It is there in the rules of the game. I don’t know where the understanding of the spirit of the game comes from because quite naturally if it’s there in the rules, it’s there.
“So probably the rules need to go back and be sorted.”
Cricket folklore has quite a few unnatural dismissals where the captains intervened to withdraw the appeals and the players themselves refused to Mankad even when they were within their rights to dismiss a batsman for backing up unfairly.
The Law 41.16 is unambiguous: If the non-striker is out of his 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 out. Here, the ball comes into play when the bowler is in his/her run up.
Ashwin clearly on the right side of the law to whip off the bails at the non-striker’s end, but some argued that his pause took a while for Buttler to take a start before running him out.
What’s Mankading? Vinoo Mankad, who is seemed to be remembered in modern day cricket more for this one act of his and not as a great all-rounder, for his notable batting and left-arm spin bowling.
On India’s tour of Australia, Mankad paused during his delivery stride and broke the wicket at the non-striker’s end to dismiss Bill Brown during the second Test. And that’s how the Mankading came into cricketing parlance. Everyone agrees that it’s doesn’t violate the laws of the game, but is seen as an unsporting act.
Even the Great Don Bradman agreed that Mankad was within his rights to effect the run out as the rules permitted him to do so.
The last of the Jaipur act has not been heard as the Twitterati is divided and a lot of them, mostly Indians, asked: How’s playing within the laws unfair?
(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist and the views expressed are personal. He can be reached at email@example.com)