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‘I will be made villain’ – Ashwin reveals IPL quick refused Mankading warning fearing controversy

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

Ravichandran Ashwin, speaking to Murali Kartik on his YouTube show DRS with Ash, reopened his stance on the contentious topic of Mankading, narrating an incident from IPL 2019 when young quick Ankit Singh Rajpoot refused to attempt the mode of dismissal fearing backlash.

Every game that Ravichandran Ashwin plays in the Indian Premier League garners unparalleled excitement – “will he, won’t he?” After ‘mankading’ Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals in an IPL game in 2019, the off-spinner has often been in the eye of the storm, with former and current players often criticising his act that by terming it “unsporting”.

Ashwin, who led the Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2019, revealed an instance from a tight game against Mumbai Indians, when he had instructed his pace bowler Ankit Rajpoot to ‘Mankad’ the non-striker if an opportunity arose. However, the bowler outright refused, fearing the controversy he would be dragged into.

“After the incident happened against Rajasthan (Buttler Mankading), in the next match we were playing Mumbai. The last-wicket pair of Rahul Chahar and Alzarri Joseph were batting. One ball and two runs to win. I went to the bowler Ankit Rajpoot and told him, ‘These batsmen will be charging out to run. Just stop and send them back in if he (non-striker) starts running before you deliver’.

He was scared and said, ‘No way, I won’t do that,” Ashwin recalled Rajpoot saying.

“Why won’t you do that? I will back you. Please do it.” Ashwin said.

And while Rajpoot initially agreed, he “froze when he came to deliver”.

“He came and said to me, ‘If I do this, it will create controversy and I will be made the villain,” Ashwin said. “I told him, ‘what you are doing here is correct. The non-striker is at fault here.”

Rajpoot’s hesitation eventually proved to be costly as Mumbai won the game with two required off the final delivery, despite the non-striker being “halfway down the ground” according to Ashwin.

Ironically, a year later, playing for Delhi Capitals, Ashwin did not ‘Mankad’ Aaron Finch of Royal Challengers Bangalore, not long after head coach Ricky Ponting had said the dismissal mode was too “unsporting”.

Law 41.16 by MCC states, “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. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one in the over.”

They also add, “It is up to both teams to ensure that the game is played within both the Laws and the Spirit of Cricket. Non-strikers must be careful not to gain an unfair advantage by leaving their ground early.”

In this year’s IPL, another related incident of particular interest was witnessed during the tense game between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, before the tournament was suspended due to Covid-19 cases among players.

In that game, MI’s Kieron Pollard went berserk while chasing Chennai’s 218 for 4 with the equation bowling down to two runs off the final delivery. Though Lungi Ngidi had been smashed for two fours and a six in the first five balls of the 20th over, he managed to bowl a fuller ball onto the stumps that Pollard failed to middle. Given the equation, CSK skipper MS Dhoni’s decision to place the fielders in the deep was debated, but replays later showed what many had missed: non-striker Dhawal Kulkarni was backing up too far.

It was a fact pointed out by Murali Kartik, one of the first Indians who ‘Mankaded’ a batsman back in 2012 in a County Championship game between Somerset and Surrey.

Kartik, who had dismissed Alex Barrow after warning him thrice, relived the threats his wife was given but admitted that if a player was found out of their crease before the ball was delivered, he would have no hesitation in running them all out in similar fashion.

“In my case, I warned the batsman thrice. They never spoke about that. Despite the warning, they are blaming the bowler. I am ready to run out all the 11 batsmen if they step out before I deliver the ball,” said Kartik.

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