Ashwin, on sensing that Buttler was backing up too far, paused during his action and removed the bails from the non-strikers' end. Buttler was left bemused and angry. The on-field umpire went upstairs and ‘Out’ signal flashed on the big screen. Buttler went back for 69.
The sight of Ashwin doing a 'Mankad' on the field didn't sit down well with cricketers and fans who termed it "unprofessional," "ugly," and against the spirit of the game. They came out in numbers on Twitter expressing their displeasure over the unique dismissal.
But did Ashwin violate the laws of cricket?
According to Law 41.16. : If the non-striker is out of his ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him out.
Here, the ball comes into play when the bowler is in his/her run up.
Clearly, Ashwin was within his rights to dislodge the bails on the non-striker's end.
But here's where the things get a little more tricky. Many argued that Ashwin's brief pause exceeded the "expected time of the release of the ball" as stated in the law and the spinner hadn't issued a warning to the batsman beforehand for backing up from the popping crease.
Then again, according to the cricket's rule book, the bowler isn't required to warn the batsman before 'mankading' him.
What is 'Mankading' anyway?
Indian opener and slow left-arm orthodox bowler Vinoo Mankad stirred controversy back in 1947-48 during India's tour of Australia when he paused during his delivery stride and broke the wicket on the non-striker's end to dismiss Bill Brown during the second Test.
The incident caused an uproar in Aussie media and 'Mankad' or 'Mankading' came into existence. Although the method doesn't violate the laws of cricket, it is still considered by many as an unsporting one.
The rare method to dismiss the batsman left Twitterati divided over the "spirit of the game."
All for Mankading but what Ashwin has done is wrong. He paused and waited for Buttler to leave crease which goes against the spirit of the game.— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) March 25, 2019
Dickwella in 2017 was fined for a similar stumping attempt. He waited for batsman to leave the crease before breaking stumps. #RRvKXIP
I can’t believe what I’m seeing!! @IPL Terrible example to set for young kids coming through. In time I think Ashwin will regret that.— Eoin Morgan (@Eoin16) March 25, 2019
He ain’t winning any spirit of cricket awards is old ashwin— Dale Steyn (@DaleSteyn62) March 25, 2019
It’s within the laws of the game but Jos Butler should have been warned by Ashwin before that. Very Surprised ! Remember Ashwin doing the same in an international game where Sehwag withdrew the appeal.— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) March 25, 2019
Oh hell! Ashwin's run Butler out for backing up too far. Within the laws, but outside the spirt of the game. Unless the batsman had been cautioned earlier. We'll know about that later. For now, Punjab get coveted breakthru and the IPL its first major controversy this season— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) March 25, 2019
Of course, Ashwin was backed by several on Twitter.
Lots of drama on the Buttler run-out. He was livid but the law and the advisory on it is clear. The bowler is within his right to run a player out at the non-striker's end if he is out of his crease— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 25, 2019
#Ashwin resurrects a mode of dismissal that should be used alll the time against batter who look to gain an extra centimetre. What a guy!— Snehal Pradhan (@SnehalPradhan) March 25, 2019
As for the spirit of cricket nonsense (what is this spirit thing anyway?) there are two men here:— Abhishek Mukherjee (@ovshake42) March 25, 2019
1. The batsman who wanted to take advantage of the bowler
2. The bowler who acted within the rules and was not stupid
Who violated the "spirit"?#IPL2019 #Mankad #Ashwin #RRvKXIP
Ashwin to his critics. pic.twitter.com/s796F9X6qj— चोकीदार डी.के. (@itsdhruvism) March 25, 2019
After the backlash, Ashwin stood his ground and responded to the accusations by saying that the dismissal was "instinctive" and not a "planned" one.
"On my part, it was very instinctive and it was not planned or anything like that," Ashwin said.
"It is there in the rules of the game. I don't know where the understanding of the spirit of the game comes from because quite naturally if it's there in the rules, it's there.
"So probably the rules need to go back and be sorted."
What about the match?
Rajasthan Royals slumped from 108/2 (Jos Buttler's dismissal, 13th over) to 170/9, losing the match to Kings XI Punjab (184/4) by 14 runs.
You can watch the infamous Buttler dismissal here.