“It feels like a million dollars,” Ravichandran Ashwin said after winning Man of the Match. It wasn’t an award Ashwin was used to receiving for the devious web he weaves around opponents, but this one was different. Batting at No. 5 against Chennai Super Kings, ahead of Shimron Hetmyer and Riya Parag, Ashwin hit an unbeaten 23-ball 40 to guarantee Rajasthan Royals not only won by five wickets, but also qualified for the Qualifier 1 against Gujarat Titans with a second-place finish in the IPL 2022 league stage.

The Royals have utilized Ashwin as a floater throughout the season. Ashwin, who started the batting in club cricket when he was younger, has shown that he can bat with the willow on several occasions. Not every bowler has five Test hundreds and over 3000 Test runs under his belt. However, in this season’s IPL, he’s shown that he’s no dilettante with the bat, even in the shortest format, and that he can deliver when it matters most, like he did on Saturday (May 20).

Ashwin entered the game with the Royals needing 75 runs to win. As set batsman Yashavi Jaiswal fell three overs later, and Shimron Hetmyer followed suit not long after, the pressure built. He held his cool and batted calmly, hitting two of his three sixes over deep midwicket with elegance and creativity.

After the game, Ashwin observed, “You can’t see from the outside truly how the wicket is performing or what alternatives you have in terms of strokes for particular match-ups especially.” “You can’t make that decision from the outside.” You have to take your time and play, so I set aside 5-7 balls to evaluate the wicket. I thought the wicket was a little sticky with Santner and Moeen’s deliveries clinging a little, so I had to select my shots carefully. I could have taken more risks versus Moeen if Yashasvi hadn’t gotten out at the wrong moment. Understanding the match-up and playing properly was critical. I told myself today that if I played till the finish, no matter what, we’d win, and that’s exactly what occurred.”