Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows how to use R Ashwin’s off-spinners, be it in a batting Powerplay, or at a press conference after the team hasn’t fared well.
Saturday night was no different, as the Chennai Super Kings bowler was used inside the batting Powerplay, was given two spells, in which he conceded just 19 runs off his four overs, and was then sent to address the media after Steve Smith and Jesse Ryder guided Pune Warriors India to victory.
Within a minute of Ashwin’s entry into the media room, he was asked about his heated exchange with Smith, and Ashwin’s straight reply was: “He abused me, and I hurled it back.” The incident, known as Mankading in cricketing terms, happened before the last ball of the 15th over of the Pune innings when Ashwin stopped in his follow-through, whipped the bails off, and warned Smith, who was at the non-striker’s end, to stay in the crease till the ball is actually delivered.
“I just whipped the bails, and he started to abuse me. Just because a batsman leaves the crease, I am not allowed to leave the crease while bowling. It will be called a no-ball,” he said. “It’s well within my right to whip the bails off if a batsman leaves the crease. There is no question of clashing with the spirit of the game here. It’s well within the rules that a batsman can be run out (like this) at the non-striker’s end. But without knowing the rules, he started abusing me, and I hurled back.”
Mankading might or might not be against the spirit of the game, but abusing someone, even if is a retaliation, certainly is against not just the spirit, but against the rules too. It’d be interesting to see how match officials react to this episode.