Kings XI Punjab R Ashwin is in the news for all the wrong reasons although he will be delighted to lead his team to a win over Rajasthan Royals on Monday. The Kings XI beat the Royals by 14 runs to start their season on a winning note.
Chasing 185, the Royals were cruising at 108 for 1 in the 13th over when R Ashwin ran Jos Buttler out through Mankad-style. Buttler was batting on 69 at that time. Royals soon lost their way and failed to overhaul the target. From 148 for 2, they eventually finished on 170 for 9. In the process, they lost against Kings XI Punjab for the first time at home.
Earlier in the game, a Chris Gayle special fired the Kings XI Punjab to a competitive total of 184 for 4 in the allotted 20 overs. Asked to bat first, the Kings XI started poorly with their opener KL Rahul departing for just 4. Gayle and Mayank Agarwal then played with caution to bring the innings on track. The duo ditched their big shots early on to make sure that the team does not recover from the early setback.
But before they could finally start playing their shots, K Gowtham broke the 54-run by dismissing Agarwal for 22. Kings XI were precariously placed at 68 for 2 at the halfway stage. They desperately needed Gayle to start firing and he soon obliged. In the 12th over of the innings, he slammed Jaydev Unadkat for three fours and a six to get into groove. During that very over, he also completed his fifty off 33 deliveries.
In the sixteenth over of the innings, he hit Ben Stokes for two fours and a six before the latter dismissed him against the run of play. Gayle score 79 off 47 deliveries with the help of 8 fours and four sixes. Towards the end, Sarfraz Khan played a handy knock of 46 to make sure the Kings XI put up a good total.
Speaking at the end of the game, R Ashwin praised his bowlers before opening up on the Mankading incident.
“We all know that after six overs it is going to slow down and gives a bit for the bowlers. Credit to bowlers on how they bowled. I have been working on a lot of variations, so pretty pleased that it came out. Also, getting the ball to duck back into the right-hander was a big plus,” said R Ashwin.
“No really argument to that (Mankading incident) and it’s pretty instinctive. I actually didn’t load and he left the crease. That’s always been my take on it because it’s my half of the crease.
I was not even at the crease, he wasn’t even looking at me and he just left the place. We ended on the right side of the coin, but I definitely think that those are game-changing moments. Lots of pluses. Shami’s form, Ankit’s ability to bowl and come back into the game. Mujeeb delivered the goods. Sam (Curran) had a bad day with the ball, but he came back well. Everybody ticked their boxes. We do have a few options amongst our midst, but if we can have good five overs, there is nothing like it,” he added.