With the ‘Mankading’ shadow still hovering over them, a deflated Kings XI Punjab will look to get their house in order when they take on Mumbai Indians in their first Indian Premier League (IPL) home game this season at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Saturday.
After beating Rajasthan Royals on the road in their opening fixture, a game infamous for Ashwin’s ‘Mankading’ Jos Buttler, Kings XI lost by 28 runs to Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.
Ashwin went for a lot of runs after he asked the home team to bat first, and looked out of sorts on the field too, making a silly mistake of allowing the team to have only three fielders inside the circle when Mohammed Shami castled Andre Russell towards the end of the first innings. It was called a no ball.
Russell went on to smash a 17-ball 48 as KKR scored 56 runs off 19 balls since the incident. Kings XI lost the match there and while chasing, were never in the game.
It will be hard for India Test off-spinner Ashwin to take his mind away from the controversy which got world cricket talking.
On Thursday, MCC clarified that Ashwin seemingly “paused too long” which was “not within the spirit of cricket”. This was a U-turn from their previous stance where the custodians of the sport said the 32-year old did not violate the ethics.
Punjab can draw heart from David Miller and Mayank Agarwal scoring half centuries in the last game, with Shami bowling really fast and exceedingly well.
The Chris Gayle factor is always there and though the Jamaican did not get as many runs as the team would have liked in the last game, the left-hander is always a threat to any opposition and can single-handedly win games.
Coming to Mumbai, the Rohit Sharma led side won a last-ball cliffhanger against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday night, a game marred by Lasith Malinga escaping a big last-ball no ball which the umpire missed.
RCB and India skipper Virat Kohli termed the incident as “ridiculous”, saying this isn’t club cricket. But Mumbai would, nonetheless, take heart from the victory and look to continue their winning run against Punjab.
Rohit got some runs under his belt but it was Jasprit Bumrah who once again showcased why he is the best bowler in white-ball cricket with his accurate stuff to choke RCB and AB De Villiers who was looking in ominous form.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin, Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Murugan Ashwin, Agnivesh Ayachi, Sam Curran, Chris Gayle, Harpreet Brar, Moises Henriques, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, David Miller, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran, KL Rahul, Ankit Rajpoot, Simran Singh, Andrew Tye, Varun Chakravarthy, Hardus Viljoen.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Jason Behrendorff, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Ben Cutting, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Lasith Malinga, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Anukul Roy, Rasikh Salam, Yuvraj Singh, Anmolpreet Singh, Barinder Sran, Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav and Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper).