The IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals would have been another game of the league with usual ramifications, if not for one thing that happened in their previous encounter – Mankading.
Ravichandran Ashwin's decision to run Jos Buttler out at the non-striker end without issuing the conventional warning led to heated debates on playing the game in the right spirit. Both players have stuck to their stated positions. Ashwin insists there is nothing wrong in doing what he did while Buttler remains adamant that Ashwin's actions are not in keeping with the 'spirit of the game.'
So, as the two teams face off for the second time this season and the likelihood of Ashwin and Buttler coming face-to-face at the non-striker's end increases, what can we expect? Here are five scenarios that may unfold when this situation arises.
We could see a repeat of the Mankading incident. Buttler may disregard what happened last time, thinking that after all the hullabaloo, Ashwin won't dare to repeat his actions. He leaves his crease again but the Indian offie refuses to back down and dislodges the bails. Umpires are forced to give the batsman out. An angry confrontation ensues, both players argue in colourful language. More vilification of Ashwin in English media, more justification of his act in Indian media and a very tense atmosphere is created between the teams.
Ashwin decides to issue a warning
Having seen the reaction to his Mankading of Buttler last time, Ashwin becomes more cautious. He notices Buttler stepping out of the crease again and, after aborting his delivery of the ball, turns around and tells Buttler that this is his first and last warning. Buttler nods his head and doesn't repeat the mistake. It's an unstated acceptance by Ashwin that his actions last time were not fully kosher but also a concession made by Buttler that he has to be careful.
Buttler exercises caution
Once bitten, twice shy. After the incident in the previous match against KXIP, Buttler takes no chances and keeps not just his bat but even one of his feet behind the crease while Ashwin delivers the ball. There is no incident and match finishes without any controversy. The most boring, yet the most likely scenario.
Royals turn the tables
Still feeling betrayed by Ashwin's act, Rajasthan Royals decide to teach his team a lesson. They keep a close eye on all the batsmen from Kings XI to see who is leaving the crease before due time. When one of them does, the bowlers hits the wicket and points to the batsman being out of the crease. But the appeal is not made by the captain and Royals take the moral high ground.
Revenge is sweet
Similar to the last scenario but with a crucial difference. The Royals do make an appeal and get the Kings XI batsman out. Ashwin cannot complain, neither could his team. The cricket world is again divided on the question of whether Mankading is morally justified. Royals though are enjoying the satisfaction of administering a dose of his own medicine to Ashwin.