Watch R Ashwin starred with the bat against Chennai Super Kings, ending with a match-winning 40* off 23 balls to help Rajasthan Royals finish in the top two in the 2022 Indian Premier League.
The off-spinner, who picked up 1-28 with the ball, was sent out to bat ahead of acclaimed finishers Shimron Hetmyer and Riyan Parag in Rajasthan Royals’ chase of 151. Ashwin walked out at No. 5 after the team had lost two quick wickets, with the scorecard reading 76-3. Needing another 75 in 52 deliveries, Ashwin started off cautiously, scoring 15 in his first 13 balls, and though he hit a six off the seventh ball that he faced, he struggled for momentum initially, forcing some to question the franchise’s decision to promote him up the order.
With Yashasvi Jaiswal, who made 59 in 44, and Hetmyer departing in the space of ten deliveries, the onus was on Ashwin to take the pressure off newcomer Riyan Parag and get the team over the line, which is exactly what he proceeded to do. The right-hander broke the shackles on the last ball of the 17th over, going down on his knees and slog sweeping Prashant Solanki for a six over deep mid-wicket.
The next over saw him hit a four, and another maximum followed in the penultimate over, as Ashwin got underneath a fuller delivery before smoking it over deep mid-wicket to get his side closer. The India star pumped his chest animatedly after hitting a four in the 20th over, as his innings helped Rajasthan Royals seal a top-two finish.
Franchises have an added advantage of finishing at No.1 or No.2 in the IPL: they have two opportunity to make the final, with a loss in Qualifier 1 allowing them to play in Qualifier 2 against the winner of the Eliminator, played between the sides which finish third and fourth.
This was not the first time the 35-year-old starred with the bat this year, having hit a fifty, his first IPL half-century, earlier this season. Overall, Ashwin has made 183 runs at an average of 30.50 and a strike rate of 146.40 in 2022. He has never scored more runs or had a better batting average in any season.
The former Punjab Kings skipper has also picked up 11 wickets in the tournament so far.