Ravichandran Ashwin batted for a standard rule after the on-field umpires changed the ball due to heavy dew in the IPL 2023 clash between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Chennai on Wednesday.
While Ashwin put in a Player of the Match performance in pink on his home return against his former franchise, the RR off-spinner was perplexed to see the umpires replace the ball due to dew when CSK was chasing a tricky 176-run target at Chepauk.
Despite the wet conditions, the RR spinners succeeded in nagging the CSK top-order, as Yuzvendra Chahal (2/27) joined forces with Ashwin (2/25) before seamer Sandeep Sharma defended 20 runs in the final over.
“I’m quite surprised the umpires changed the ball for dew on their own. It’s never happened before. Some of the decisions in this year’s IPL on the field have left me a little flummoxed, to be honest,” Ashwin said during the post-match press conference.
“I mean, it left me flummoxed, in a good or a bad way. I think what you need is a little bit of balance,” said Ashwin, who also played a crucial cameo with the bat to help RR recover from a top-order collapse.
“As a bowling team, we are not asking for the ball to be changed. But the ball was changed on the umpires’ accord. I did ask the umpire and he said we can change it. So I just hope every time there is dew they can change it every single time going forward in this IPL. You can do whatever you want, but you just need to be in a standard going forward,” he added.
Ashwin also lauded his Rajasthan Royals teammate Sandeep Sharma’s calmness in the final over against CSK captain MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to pull off a three-run win.
Sharma initially fumbled in the final over as he conceded two wides before Dhoni slammed his attempted yorkers for two successive sixes. Sandeep, who came in as a replacement signing for RR, then pinned three deliveries in the block-hole to deny Dhoni a win in his 200th IPL game as CSK captain.
“Sandeep is someone who I really like. I really enjoy his commitment, his attitude. He’s someone who will fight, doesn’t get flustered. Even when we walked up to him at three balls, seven (required), he was relaxed. He had his own plans and he wanted to deliver what he could deliver at best.
“I just feel going full to Dhoni at that stage sometimes is not the best option, but any bowler would think that. You have 20 runs, so you want to just shut down to three balls. Going forward, it’s a lesson learned. But I thought it was phenomenal from Sandeep,” Ashwin remarked.
Royals captain Sanju Samson adeptly used Ashwin’s command at the venue as the veteran offie scalped a well-set Ajinkya Rahane. Ashwin is the most successful IPL bowler at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium with 48 wickets in 40 innings.
While CSK head coach Stephen Fleming said that the plan was to slog the spinners with Shivam Dube, Ashwin trapped the southpaw leg-before on 8 with a slider after unleashing a string of his variations.
“He (Dube) is a designated spin hitter for CSK. The way he played Kuldeep (Sen) the previous over, I knew he was going to come after me.
“I didn’t have any deliberate plans, but I feel the ball was coming out really well. I’m able to get it to drop, put enough revs and use both my variations, my length and the arm ball at the moment were really good. I’m just happy the way it is coming out,” the 36-year-old remarked.
Ashwin also commended his India teammate Jadeja, who put the Royals in a fix with prodigious turn and drift. Jadeja removed Devdutt Padikkal in his second over before castling Samson with a delivery that spun backwards from length to hit the stumps. Jadeja nearly had Ashwin caught off his first ball at first-slip before he played a game-changing 30 off 22 balls.
“I felt like I was playing in a Test match when he (Jadeja) was bowling. It was just raging a few balls, these are the things we are going to encounter with different teams in different home grounds.
“It was perfect for a left-arm spinner to hit that spot with side spin and good speed. Jadeja was unplayable for those two-three overs, the ball was spinning from outside leg stump sometimes. We had to bide time and pick our matchups,” Ashwin said.