India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates New Zealand's Henry Nicholls being caught during day two of the first Test cricket match between New Zealand and India at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on February 22, 2020. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Ashwin outwits Buttler as Delhi see off Rajasthan in IPL

Ravichandran Ashwin won his latest battle with England’s Jos Buttler a season after their ugly ‘Mankading’ showdown as Delhi Capitals inflicted a fourth straight Indian Premier League defeat on Rajasthan Royals to go back top of the table.

Last year’s game between the two was dominated by the sportsmanship row that erupted after Ashwin took off the bails at the bowler’s end when Buttler strayed too far out of his crease looking for a run.

There was no repeat in the new clash but Ashwin did claim Buttler’s wicket as his side took a 46-run victory in the sweltering Sharjah heat.

This time Buttler could not complain. He was one of a host of Rajasthan batsmen to give their wickets away cheaply in the latest disappointment for captain Steve Smith.

Buttler took no chances backing up during Ashwin’s bowling. When facing the Indian all-rounder, Buttler looked for a big hit but sent the ball to Shikhar Dhawan who made a diving catch at square leg.

Ashwin gave a huge leap of celebration. “Getting that Jos wicket was important,” he said after the game.

Despite the sportsmanship controversy caused by his manoeuvre last year, Ashwin had given a “final” warning before the game that he would do it again.

Both sides were probably relieved that Ashwin, who was named Man of the Match, never got the chance. But according to Ashwin, Delhi coach Ricky Ponting has approached the International Cricket Council over changing the rules for Mankading so that a batsman can be punished without being out.

With Buttler gone, Rajasthan gave away wickets easily and never looked capable of matching Delhi’s 184 for eight off 20 overs. They were all out for 138 in 19.4 overs.

Smith, who won the toss and chose to bat second, made a tentative 24 before being caught by Delhi’s batting hero Shimron Hetmyer off Anrich Nortje’s fiery bowling. Rahul Tweatia made 38 and opener Yashasvi Jaiswal 34 but noone else go into double figures.

Smith said Rajasthan must now “turn things around quickly” and must face pressure to bring England star Ben Stokes straight into the team for the next game on Sunday.

Stokes is finishing his quarantine after arriving late to be with his ailing father in New Zealand. Smith admitted that the allrounder lacks practice.

The 23-year-old Hetmyer made 45 off 24 balls — including five sixes — as the Capitals strengthened their credentials as surprise contenders for the title.

They are now back ahead of reigning champions Mumbai Indians with five wins from six games. Rajasthan are stuck in seventh among the eight teams with just two wins.

West Indies big-hitter Hetmyer put on his most impressive performance of the tournament so far to keep up momentum after Australian Marcus Stoinis made 39, including four sixes, and captain Shreyas Iyer hit 22.

He was dominating the Rajasthan bowlers in the empty stadium and looking to take his side past 200 against 19-year-old medium pacer Kartik Tyagi.

Hetmyer hit two straight sixes off the teenager in the 17th over before being caught by Tewatia going for a third big strike.