Less than 48 hours after the incident that sent the cricket community into a collective frenzy, Kings XI Punjab and R Ashwin will be back in action when they face Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday.
Unless you were living under the rock for the past day or so, you would know by now that XIP skipper Ashwin is in the eye of a storm after the controversial Jos Buttler run out on Monday.
A winning start will keep Kings XI Punjab upbeat but all anyone has spoken about since the match in Jaipur has been Ashwin’s perfectly legitimate / ridiculously disgraceful (based on which side you are on) Mankading of Buttler.
Buttler was looking in imperious touch with 69 from 43 balls and Rajasthan well on course to overhaul the target of 185 but following the dismissal they went on to lose eight wickets for 62 runs to hand Kings XI Punjab their maiden win in Jaipur.
It was that incident that, arguably, triggered a dramatic collapse with Kings XI Punjab restricting Rajasthan Royals to 170/9 to notch up a 14-run win but, in the furore, a good bowling performance got overshadowed.
Full text: Understandable how umpire gave Buttler out, MCC says in statement on Ashwin controversy
Though the dismissal was within the rules of the game, it sparked a debate with spin legend and Rajasthan Royals brand ambassador Shane Warne labelling it as “disgraceful” and against the spirt of the game.
It remains to be seen how much the incident has affected Ashwin and Co as they play their second consecutive away game of the season. All eyes are bound to be on Ashwin to see if attempts a Mankad again.
As for the actual cricket, Kings XI’s biggest star Chris Gayle scored a 47-ball 79 and his Jamaican rivalry with fellow mate Andre Russell, who also looked in blistering touch for KKR, will be one of the sub plots of the clash at Eden Gardens.
The Universe Boss, who will retire from ODIs after the 2019 World Cup, has been in sensational form, smashing 39 sixes in the five-match ODI series against England and set the record for most sixes by a batsman in international cricket. A typical slow starter, Gayle was 14 off 18 balls but the opener hit top gear in the 12th over hammering Jaydev Unadkat for four successive boundaries.
A former KKR player, Gayle knows Eden Gardens quite well as he would look to continue his assault on the spin-oriented KKR attack.
And Russell will be KKR’s answer to Gayle as the KKR star also fashioned a sensational win, smashing an unbeaten 49 from 19 balls in their opening fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.
The win saw their star spinner and explosive opener, Sunil Narine, hurt his finger and KKR would hope he is fit in time.
KKR will embark on a crucial four-match away sojourn after this and they would look to keep their momentum intact before they return home to face Delhi Capitals on April 12.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, KC Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj.
Kings XI Punjab: R Ashwin (C), Sam Curran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin, Chris Gayle, Andrew Tye, K L Rahul, Ankit Rajpoot, Mandeep Singh, Simran Singh, Mayank Agrawal, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and David Miller.
Match starts 8 pm IST.
(With PTI inputs)