CHENNAI: When R Ashwin walked out to bat at No 3 ahead of Sanju Samson and Devdutt Padikkal with Rajasthan Royals struggling at 11/1 in the third over against Delhi Capitals at the DY Patil Stadium, it came as no surprise. After all, they had done it earlier, and Ashwin had even retired himself out when he wasn’t able to keep things going. Such has been the kind of campaign for Rajasthan; open to experiment in every match, not shying away taking risks with the bat.
While Yashasvi Jaiswal took on Andre Nortje at the other end, hitting him for a four and a six, Ashwin did not waste time to do what he was supposed to — score some quick runs and disrupt Delhi’s bowling plans. He flicked Shardul Thakur over midwicket and followed it up with a cover drive. But after the powerplay, Mitchell Marsh and Kuldeep Yadav came on, putting the chokes on the run rate. Marsh removed Jaiswal for a run-a-ball 19, a quiet couple of overs passed by with RR stuttering at 72 for two after 11 overs.
Ashwin was going at 32 from 27 balls. It seemed like the retired out could happen soon enough as Samson, Rassie van der Dussen and Riyan Pirag were waiting. That’s when he tonked Kuldeep into the stands. While it seemed like Rajasthan were back on track (97/2 in 13 overs), Ashwin was still in the middle, leaving everyone wondering how many overs others would get to bat.
Ashwin, however, hit Chetan Sakariya for a boundary, and brought up his first-ever IPL fifty off 37 balls. Although he got out in the very next ball for 38-ball 50, every batter who came in after Ashwin’s dismissal struggled to hit the floor running from ball one, as Rajasthan scrapped their way 160/6, scoring just 21 runs in the last three overs.
In reply, Delhi lost KS Bharat cheaply in the very first over. But Marsh and David Warner ensured that they did not lose sight of the target. As the southpaw struggled to push the run rate, at the other end, the Australian all-rounder was smashing every bowler across the park. He did not spare anyone, cruising his way to a 38-ball fifty with a six down the ground off Yuzvendra Chahal.
With 63 runs needed from 42 balls, Warner too, joined the party, scoring boundaries off Kuldeep Sen and Chahal. As Ashwin came back, Marsh launched the ace off-spinner into the stands and followed it up with a four and a massive six off Trent Boult in the next over. Marsh got out for a 62-ball 89, but Pant and Warner saw Delhi through in 18.1 overs.
Although Ashwin did what was asked of him with the bat well, the way Delhi batted makes one wonder if Rajasthan Royals missed a trick by not giving Samson and Co enough time in the death overs to get their eye in.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 160/6 in 20 ovs (Ashwin 50, Padikkal 48; Sakariya 2/23) lost to Delhi Capitals 161/2 in 18.1 ovs (Marsh 89, Warner 52 n.o).
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