On Wednesday, R Ashwin registered his first half-century in the Indian Premier League. Sent in at No. 3, Ashwin responded with a 38-ball 50 and guided Rajasthan Royals to a competitive total against Delhi Capitals.
Although the Royals have one foot in the playoffs, the lack of batting depth has been a concern for them throughout the season. In the first half of the tournament, Jos Buttler’s prolific form as an opener helped them conceal this weakness. But whenever Buttler has got out early, they have struggled to chase big totals.
Rajasthan had tried to counter their shallow batting unit by sending R Ashwin at no. 3. The simple logic behind this move was to ensure that they don’t run out of the middle-order too early in the innings.
Against Delhi Capitals, Ashwin didn’t take much time to get his eyes in, and struck a six and a four off Axar Patel’s bowling. But once Yashasvi Jaiswal fell prey to Mitchell Marsh, Ashwin had to curb his attacking game. He forged a crucial 53-run stand with Devdutt Padikkal before being dismissed on 50.
In the post-match interview, Ashwin differed when asked about whether he was sent in as a pinch-hitter. He said that he was asked to steady the innings while keeping the run rate in check.
“No, there’s no license that has been given,” Ashwin said. “Starting from the season, it was communicated properly to me that I’d be used up the order. We had a few practice games as well where I opened, and I’ve kind of enjoyed it.
Ashwin’s knock comprised of four fours and two sixes. With this innings, his strike rate has increased to 140, which is significantly better than both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Kohli’s 212 runs in 11 games has come at a strike rate of 111, while Rohit’s strike rate stands at 125.
Both Kohli (19.63) and Rohit (18.18) have been averaging less than R Ashwin. Rohit is yet to reach the half-century mark in IPL 2022, while Kohli’s fifty came in 45 balls. In contrast, Ashwin took only 37 balls for his maiden fifty.
Further, Ashwin (6) has also hit more sixes than Kohli (4), while he is just three sixes behind Rohit, despite facing 65 fewer balls than Mumbai Indians’ skipper.