Rajasthan Royals' director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara said it was the "right time'' to retire out R Ashwin during their match against Lucknow Super Giants on Sunday (April 10). Ashwin, who was batting on 28 from 23 balls at the Wankhede Stadium, was called back to the dug out in the 19th over and Riyan Parag walked to the middle. However, the former Sri Lankan captain feels they could have sent Parag ahead of Rassie van der Dussen. Making his IPL debut, the South African batted at No. 4 but could only manage four runs.
"It was the right time to do that. Ashwin himself was asking from the field as well and we had discussed just before that as to what we would do. As the coach, I got one call wrong not sending Riyan Parag ahead of Rassie van der Dussen and holding Rassie back so we couldn't get the full benefit of Riyan, but how Ashwin handled that situation, walking in under pressure, he batted, supported the team and then finally sacrificed himself in terms of retiring himself out and then backed it up with a magnificent bowling effort. And of course Boult. Yuzi Chahal, Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Sen all of these bowlers were outstanding under pressure with the dew," said Sangakkara.
Sangakkara heaped heavy praise on debutant Kuldeep Sen who managed to defend 15 runs in the final over against Marcus Stoinis. Playing his first game of the season, the Australian all-rounder looked in phenomenal touch and accumulated 34 runs from the 18th and 19th over, leaving 15 for the final over. However, Sen managed to bowl three dot deliveries under pressure and Lucknow ended up falling short by three runs.
"I had no conversation with Kuldeep before the last over. It was Sanju, Jos and the other players around him that supported him. We had pretty simple plans in terms of bowling at the death. I just want to say how impressed everyone, especially I am with how Kuldeep Sen handled his first game; how he bowled, how he thinks... He bowled the hardest over under pressure and did an excellent job for us," said Sangakkara.
Meanwhile, LSG skipper KL Rahul said they made the right call of holding back Marcus Stoinis. Playing his first match of the season, the all-rounder from Australia walked in to bat at No. 8 and smoked 38* off 17 deliveries. LSG needed 49 runs in the last three overs and Stonis almost got them over the line.
"Throughout the 20 overs, we kept believing we could win this game. We have depth in our batting, today Stoinis batted at No.8, when you have someone like that with so much power and who is such a destructive batsman... that's one of the reasons he's our second retained player," said Rahul.
"We believe Stoinis can win us games from any position, we had that belief through and through. If we'd gotten a couple of partnerships going in the early stages, it would've been an easier target to chase but unfortunately, we couldn't get that start. Credit to the Rajasthan bowlers, who kept the pressure on and took early wickets. All in all, it was a good learning for us and Stoinis joining our camp is a huge boost for us."
Lucknow lost their first match of the season but then went on a three-match winning streak before losing a close encounter against Rajasthan. And, Rahul was mighty pleased with the way his team has performed so far. "I'm very happy with the way we've been playing. The five games have gone down to the wire. Sometimes we've been behind the game and we've really found a way to stay in the contest and give ourselves a chance to win.
"Here again today, we didn't start that great with the ball but we came back well and if not for Hetmyer's innings, we would've restricted them to 110-120. But again, that's how the game goes - a few errors in the field, mistakes with the ball, a few mistakes with the bat in a couple of games that hasn't really helped but otherwise I think we're all confident and relaxed in the dressing room.
"We're a team that's going to give it 200% in the field and regardless of the result, we'll keep trying hard and giving our best each game. Most times we're confident the result will go our way but sometimes we will have games where we end up on the losing side. We'll learn from it and losses like this bring the team together and it's a good reminder for all of us to stay humble and keep working hard and enjoy every game."