To Mankad Or Not?

Cricket lovers will of course recognize from the title of this blog post that “Mankad” here is used as a verb. But isn’t Mankad a name of a cricketer of yore? Yes, it is and Vinoo Mankad, one of India’s best all rounders has the distinction of having a type of dismissal named after him! If I am not mistaken, this is the only form of dismissal in cricket named after an individual!! Caught, stumped, bowled, and so on not being the names of players!!

This subject- which I hadn’t thought off for long- came back to my attention in yesterday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) match. Ravi Ashwin of Delhi Capitals gave the Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman, Aaron Finch, a warning that he could ” Mankad” him if he left the crease and wandered out before he (the bowler) delivered the ball. He later tweeted that batsmen should take this as a final warning!

For the uninitiated to the rules of cricket, this manner of dismissing a batsman came into being during the India vs. Australia Test series in 1947-48. Vinoo Mankad, then Indian’s premier all- rounder did what from then on came to be called a “Mankad”. He ran out Bill Brown in the Test Match in Sydney when Brown the non-striker batsman strayed outside his crease before the ball was delivered by Mankad.

At that time, the media howled about the lack of sportsmanship on Mankad’s part. They complained that it was a pretty cheap way of getting a batsman out. The legendary Don Bradman though said it was entirely within the laws of the game.

In future years there have been more cases in test cricket and International one day matches where batsmen have been ‘ Mankaded” so to speak! Ravi Ashwin brought this mode of dismissal to the Indian Premier League ( IPL) in 2019. Bowling for Kings XI Punjab, he “Mankaded” Jos Buttler of the Rajasthan Royals without giving him any gentlemanly warning! This incident created quite a controversy at that time.

But to return to Ashwin and Finch and the present. Ashwin’s not running Finch out, in this case, didn’t matter at all. Finch scored only 13 and RCB scored 137/9 chasing a target of 197. But imagine if Finch had scored a hundred! What if -after that friendly warning -he had scored a brilliant and match winning innings? Sure, some would have applauded Ashwin’s sporting spirit in warning Finch. But had the match been won by RCB, many would have blasted Ashwin. for being too considerate in the modern game. You know the high stakes involved in a tournament such as the IPL.

I can think of at least one match where a sporting gesture lost a team the match. Coutney Walsh the West Indian fast bowler did not run out Saleem Jaffer of Pakistan in the 1987 World Cup. He just warned him but Pakistan went on to win the match. You may recall that the West Indies were then knocked out of the tournament. So much for the sporting spirit!

Batsmen, in today’s T20 cricket, already have so much in their favor than the bowlers. Look at the rules regarding field setting in the first six overs; the strictness shown by umpires for wides and no balls; the number of balls they can bowl ( a maximum of 24 legal deliveries in 4 overs vs many more a batsman can face, the maximum possible being all 20 overs) etc. etc. You will agree that it is really tough being a bowler in the modern T20 game.

In my view Ashwin was very kind in letting off Finch with a warning. Ashwin’s team won the match so the matter ended there.
I go back to my earlier question: making the most of a chance and warning, what if Finch had gone on to make a match winning contribution with the bat?

Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020: Records To Be Broken!

Fingers crossed! If everything goes off well for the next 53 days, we can say that even the pandemic Covid 19 -also called the Wuhan Virus- could not halt the triumphant march of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The 13 th edition of what is arguably the richest cricket tournament in the world is being played in the UAE this year. From September 19 to November 10, 2020. Being one of those die hard cricket fans, I must have seen most of the matches- on television of course- since the inaugural match at our own Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru way back in 2008.

For the statistically inclined cricket fan , the IPL is a delight. Records are created and records are broken with regularity. Every year the standards of the game go up, especially in the fielding and catching. The batsmen and bowlers too strive to master something new and innovative to beat their opponents.

Today’s blog post is written with the millions of record tracking cricket fans in mind. All data is taken from the IPL website . Let’s see how many of these records will get beaten in this year’s IPL, even without the customary roar of supporting crowds to egg on the players!

With 5412 runs, Virat Kohli, the skipper of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, (which, by the way, is the team I support) is far ahead of the others as the man with the most number of IPL runs under his belt. I don’t see Rohit Sharma go past him this year as he is 500 runs behind. I wonder if anyone will beat Kohli’s record for the most runs in one season- 973 in the 2016 edition with 4 centuries and 7 fifties. The record for the most wickets for a IPL season is held by Dwayne Bravo, who took a staggering 32 wickets in 2013.

I don’t expect the records for sixers to be broken this time around. Chris Gayle has a total of 326 sixers while De Villiers the man next is way behind with 212! Gayle also holds the record of most sixers in an innings (17) with 13 being the next highest. The record for the highest individual innings also belongs to Gayle: 175. I hope someone breaks it this year! I don’t foresee anyone beating Andre Russell’s overall strike rate of 186. Likewise, Chris Morris’s 38 runs in 9 balls to give him the best innings strike rate of 422 will take some beating!!

The fastest 50 record belongs to K L Rahul ( 51 off 14 balls). Some explosive batting like this could well happen this year. Let’s hope so for the sake of the game. Gayle scored the fastest 100 – in 30 balls. I am not sure if anyone will better this in 2020.

In the bowling department, Lasith Malinga’s overall tally of 170 wickets could well be broken this year as he himself is not playing. The best figures for an innings of 6 wickets for 12 runs by Alzarri Joseph is up for the grabs though only two others have ever taken 6 wickets in an innings like him so far in the history of the IPL. Rashid Khan has the best overall economy rate of 6.55 in 45 matches. One record that I wish will be broken is for the most expensive spell ever : 4 overs for 70 runs by Basil Thampi, an average of 17 runs per over!

In the inaugural match of IPL 2020 yesterday, we saw Piyush Chawla don the CSK colors for the first time, after being so used to seeing him for Punjab and KKR . But in the record for playing for most number of franchises, he is far, far behind! You may know that 4 players ( Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv Patel, Ishant Sharma, and Thisara Perera) have played for 6 different franchisees. But “their baap” – as we would say in India – the eternal traveller- has to be Aaron Finch. The Aussie, who has already passed through 7, will be playing for his 8th franchisee when he turns out for RCB this year! I hope he performs better than ever before!!

So let’s get down to the game and hope IPL 2020, despite all the problems, will provide us with some fabulous entertainment!