Ravichandran Ashwin fields off his own bowling during a 2019 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match. AFP
The high-octane Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL) has lived up to its reputation for rip-roaring action in 2019. Entering the second half of the seven-week extravaganza, AFP Sport picks the eye-grabbing moments so far from this year's IPL
Ashwin's Mankad kicks it off
Controversy exploded on just the third day of the season after Ravichandran Ashwin's "Mankad" run-out of England batsman Jos Buttler triggered a worldwide debate on the spirit of cricket.
Ashwin, captain of Kings XI Punjab, stopped in his delivery stride to whip off the bails while Buttler, for Rajasthan Royals, was backing up at the non-striker's end.
While pundits and former players were busy squaring up on the rights and wrongs of Ashwin's actions, Sunil Gavaskar took strong offence to former Test bowler Vinoo Mankad's name being associated with the controversial mode of dismissal.
"Lack of respect shown to an Indian legend is indeed sad," Gavaskar said of Mankad, who had warned Australia's Bill Brown before sending him packing in the 1940s.
MS Dhoni plays a shot during the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
'Captain Cool' Dhoni boils over
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is known as "Captain Cool" but he suffered a meltdown and stormed from his dugout to confront the umpires after a no-ball call for a high full toss was reversed against Rajasthan Royals.
Dhoni, the Chennai Super Kings skipper, was docked 50 per cent of his match fee but many thought the wicketkeeper was treated with kid gloves. "Dhoni should have been banned for at least two to three games," said former India batsman Virender Sehwag on website Cricbuzz.
"...tomorrow another captain can do the same, then what is the value of an umpire?"
India captain Virat Kohli also questioned the standard of umpiring in the star-studded Twenty20 league after his Royal Challengers Bangalore were denied a win when Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga clearly overstepped on the final delivery.
"We are not playing club cricket," Kohli fumed after the blatant no ball was not spotted. Following on from Dhoni's one-man pitch invasion and Buttler's Mankad, which many thought should have been called a dead ball, the umpires will be under the microscope as the season heads for its climax.
Virat Kohli in action during the 2019 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match. Sajjad Hussain / AFP
King Kohli's unwanted record
Kohli could not blame the umpires, however, when Bangalore suffered their sixth straight defeat to equal the worst start to an IPL campaign.
They did finally stop the rot with a first win on Saturday. While India top the Test rankings and "King Kohli" is the world's leading batsman, the worry is he seems unable to lead Bangalore to a maiden IPL title despite two half-centuries and a place in the league's top 10 batsmen.
With a playoff place looking remote, former England captain Michael Vaughan reckons India should instead rest him ahead of the World Cup next month.
David Warner hits a shot during the 2019 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match. Noah Seelam / AFP
Chart-topping Warner has the hits
With four fifties and a century, David Warner has taken the IPL by storm in his comeback from a one-year ban for his part in Australia's ball-tampering scandal. The opener tops the batting chart with 400 runs for Sunrisers Hyderabad and insists he is "refreshed" after his enforced absence.
Warner's disgraced former captain Steve Smith has been quieter, but has displayed occasional flashes of brilliance for Rajasthan Royals such as an unbeaten 73 against Kolkata.
Both are back in the Australia squad for the World Cup with a big incentive to keep up their return to form by finishing the IPL with a flourish.
Andre Russell look at the ball after playing a shot during the 2019 Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP
Sixes galore for rampant Russell
West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell has almost single-handedly fuelled Kolkata's IPL drive with his powerhouse batting which has seen him smash 30 sixes so far.
The burly Jamaican leads the slogging charts ahead of fellow West Indian Chris Gayle who has cleared the ropes 23 times for Kings XI Punjab.
The blond mohawk-adorned Russell's highlight was a 13-ball 48 against Bangalore as Kolkata chased down an improbable 54 runs to win in the last three overs. Batting great Brian Lara listed the all-rounder as his top pick for West Indies' World Cup team on Twitter, saying the selectors should pick Russell and "any other 10."
Playing in his debut match, Mumbai Indians’ West Indies’ quick Alzarri Joseph registered the best-ever IPL bowling figures of 6/12 off 3.4 overs to fire Mumbai Indians to a 40-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in a match of modest scores at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Saturday.
In a format like the Indian Premier League, momentum plays an important role. While a team on a roll can make the impossible look regular, teams which haven’t managed to hit the right note can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Mumbai Indians (MI) finally became the first team to stop a marauding Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in their tracks as they beat MS Dhoni’s men by 37 runs to register their second win in four matches and go above Rajasthan Royals in the table. CSK meanwhile suffered their first defeat in four outings.
Virat Kohli-led India have retained the ICC Test Championship Mace and won the purse of $1 million for a third year running after finishing at the top of the ICC Test Team rankings on the cut-off date of April, while New Zealand have ensured second place.
The Ardennes Classics continues on Wednesday with UAE Team Emirates announcing a stellar line-up to take on La Fleche Wallonne and the fourth Monument of the season -- Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Spearheading the team of seven riders will be Dan Martin. The Irishman picked up the race victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2013,
Even by the rarified atmosphere of Manchester derbies, there will seldom have been so much on the line for both sides of the city when Manchester United host Manchester City on Wednesday. For City, the Premier League title is at stake with Pep Guardiola’s men needing to win their remaining four matches
The Milwaukee Bucks wiped away 18 years of frustration on Monday by beating the Detroit Pistons 127-104 to complete a four-game sweep of their first round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Delhi Capitals opener Prithvi Shaw believes his team-mate Rishabh Pant is the biggest finisher in T20 cricket at the moment. Delhi Capitals registered a convincing six-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals here on Monday night to go to the top of the points table in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).