What happened?

In an Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 match at Jaipur on Monday night, Kings XI Punjab off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin ran out Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler. This was an unusual type of run out, which over the years has come to be known as ‘Mankading’.

Buttler was furious after being given out by the TV umpire. But more importantly his dismissal triggered a batting collapse as Rajasthan, who were chasing Punjab’s total of 184-4, lost momentum. The home team were eventually restricted to 170-9 in their allotted 20 overs, losing the match by 14 runs.

So, what is Mankading?

Put simply, Mankading is the running out of a batsman standing at the non-striker’s end by the opposing team’s bowler.

How does it work?

A bowler may – after he has started his run up, but before he would normally have been expected to release the ball – attempt to run out a non-striker who has strayed outside his crease, with no warning mentioned.

Is it legal?

It is. Once a bowler Mankads a batsman and the fielding side appeal, the umpire will give the said batsman out under Law 41.16 of the Laws of Cricket code owned and maintained by its custodian, the Marylebone Cricket Club in London.

Why the name?

Indian left-arm spinner Vinoo Mankad was the first international cricketer to run out a player in such a manner. The batsman was Australia’s Bill Brown, and the match was the Sydney Test of 1947. Interestingly, Mankad had already dismissed Brown in an earlier match, a first-class match to be precise, against an Australian XI. The Australian press accused Mankad of being unsportsmanlike, although some Australians – including then captain Don Bradman – defended Mankad’s actions. Since this incident, the name ‘Mankaded’ stuck.

What exactly happened in Jaipur?

Running in to bowl, Ashwin stopped after entering his delivery stride and noticed Buttler did not have his eye on the bowler and stepped out of the crease. Ashwin turned around, clipped the bails of the stumps at the non-striker’s end and made an appeal. The standing umpire referred it to the TV umpire, who took little time to deem Buttler out.

Déjà vu?

Buttler was dismissed in such a fashion by bowler Sachithra Senanayake during Sri Lanka’s 3-2 series-clinching victory in the fifth and final one-day international at Edgbaston in 2014.

So, what’s the fuss about?

The incident was contentious because Buttler was in his crease when Ashwin arrived before pulling out of his action and waiting for Buttler to step forward. This begs the question: would Buttler have been inside his crease had Ashwin not stopped at the point of delivery?

While this is difficult to determine, the updated Law 41.16 specifies: “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.”

But then the question is: what does “expected to release the ball” exactly mean? Also, is it possible to estimate a time when a bowler is “expected to release the ball”?

Spirit of the game?

Ever since Mankad was called unsportsmanlike, the act itself has been deemed so by purists of the game over the following decades. The ‘spirit of the game’ as a concept has been called upon every time a player got ‘Mankaded’. It was no different on Monday night in Jaipur.

Who reacted how?

The issue not only drew a faultline between clubs but also between Indian and English media and former cricketers – mostly on the issue of whether what Ashwin did was against the spirit of the game.

“I think R Ashwin’s actions tonight speak for him and represent him,” Rajasthan coach Paddy Upton said. “I’m not sure it represented his teammates. I think we’ll leave it up to the IPL fans to decide if that’s the kind of things they want to see, and we’ll leave it up to the cricket world to judge R Ashwin’s actions tonight. But for us, we’re certainly here to play cricket and entertain the fans and be good role models for people who love the game.”

But Ashwin shot back said at the post-match news conference, saying: “It’s there within the rules of the game. I don’t understand where the spirit of the game comes, naturally if it’s there in the rules it’s there.”

Rajasthan fast bowler Jofra Archer reacted almost immediately on Twitter before he seemingly took his tweet down: “You show no confidence in yourself or your bowlers to get the job done so you resort to that ? #greatcaptaincy”

Former India opener-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra tweeted: “Law is above The Mythical Spirit of The Game. Don’t fret. Don’t frown. How’s playing within the laws of the game ‘unfair’??”

Rajasthan mentor Shane Warne tweeted: “So disappointed in @ashwinravi99 as a Captain & as a person. All captains sign the #IPL wall & agree to play in the spirit of the game. RA had no intention of delivering the ball – so it should have been called a dead ball. Over to u BCCI – this a not a good look for the #IPL”

Veteran cricket writer Lawrence Booth, perhaps, summed it best, when he tweeted: “The Ashwin/Buttler Mankad seems to have divided critics broadly along national lines. As ever.”


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