Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 151/5 (19.4) beat Chennai Super Kings 150/6 (20) by 5 wickets.

Read play-by-play updates here.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. 

On a breezy Tuesday evening at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium, Ravichandran Ashwin’s all-round brilliance proved to be the game-changer as the Royals stormed past Chennai Super Kings with a resounding 5-wicket victory, one that has steered them to a second-place finish on the points table and an official spot in the IPL 2022 playoffs.

In the first innings, Ashwin’s figures of 1/28 were instrumental in applying the brakes on CSK’s run-scoring that was boosted by a Moeen Ali special. Chennai were 75/1 after the first six overs, but a fighting comeback from the Royals’ bowling attack restricted them to 150 by the end of the innings. Obed McCoy’s slower ones and Yuzvendra Chahal wily leg-spin then combined to pick four wickets between them, arresting all the momentum that threatened to dominate proceedings at one point.

Then came the explosive Yashasvi Jaiswal, having found form on his second coming into the team to kick start the Royals’ chase. His aggressive start put the pressure on the CSK bowlers right from the beginning, despite having lost Jos Buttler early on. A few key wickets were lost in the middle overs but Ashwin’s strike rotation with his partners ensured the required run rate wasn’t too far beyond reach. With seven runs needed in the final over, a pumped-up Ashwin sliced a full-length ball to backward point for a boundary and Riyan Parag then completed the formalities to script a historic win for the Royals.

Here are the key moments from the match:

New ball + Trent Boult = Recipe for success

Before this game, the Royals had picked up 23 wickets (second-most) in the Powerplay this season, and that’s largely been due to the combined efforts of our new-ball duo. Sanju Samson has been bowling the majority of both Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna’s overs inside the first six overs on most occasions and it has worked wonders for the team. This time, it was Boult who drew first blood, dismissing Ruturaj Gaikwad before the opener could even get his eye in. It was the third instance of Boult getting Gaikwad in four T20 innings. And it is this knack of getting these early wickets in the Powerplay that continues to give the Royals an edge over their opponent on any given day. 

In it to Ash ‘win’ it

“Feels like a million dollars,” said an ecstatic Ashwin after the match.

And why not? On a night when an in-form Moeen Ali looked set to take CSK to a humongous total, Ravi Ashwin brought his A-game to the fore. First with the ball and then with the bat, seizing the opportunity at No.5.

With Moeen going berserk with the bat, skipper Sanju introduced Ashwin as early as in the fifth over, and then gave him another one in the seventh. The move paid off, as the off-spinner broke the Conway-Moeen partnership and from thereon, the rest of the batters fell like ninepins at one end, while Moeen watched from the other. He backed it up with two more quiet overs, stalled Moeen at one end and also stemmed the run-flow in the process. For his economical spell and match-winning 40* that included two fours and three sixes, Ashwin was deservingly named ‘Player of the Match’. 

On-song Yashasvi comes to the party

He missed a few games this season and he’s shown just how much it means to him. With some exquisite timing, picturesque stroke-play and a calm head on his shoulders, Yashasvi Jaiswal has roared his way back into the team, further strengthening the Royals’ top order. His glorious 59 was laced with eight fours and a six, giving a sneak peek into the mature mindset of a seasoned player and the quality of cricket in his arsenal.

It wasn’t the easiest of starts for the Royals, having been asked to bowl first on a wicket that looked absolutely brilliant for batting. The first six overs whizzed past our bowlers, and barring Boult’s solitary strike, there was no other opening. But once Ashwin struck, the floodgates were open and Sanju’s smart bowling changes further dented CSK’s batting order. From 75/1 in 6 overs to 150/6 in 20 - it was a champion fightback from the Royals, one that inspired our batters to come out and chase down the target with a confident approach and with two balls to spare.

With 18 points in 14 games, we’ve now officially finished the league stage in second place on the points table. We will take on Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 24. 

Until then, let\"s hear it for the Royals. HALLA BOL!

What did you think of our performance? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or with me, @arey_yaar