Cricket - Ashwin revels in new role as Rajasthan secure IPL playoff spot

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - First Test - South Africa v India - SuperSport Park Cricket Stadium, Pretoria, South Africa - December 30, 2021 India's Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after taking the wicket of South Africa's Lungi Ngidi to win the match REUTERS/Rogan Ward

(Reuters) - Rajasthan Royals' Ravichandran Ashwin said it "felt like a million dollars" after his all-round brilliance fired them to victory over the Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai on Friday and sealed second spot in the Indian Premier League playoff race.

Ashwin picked up 1-28 with his off-spin before smashing an unbeaten 23-ball 40 as Rajasthan chased down 151 with five wickets in hand and two balls to spare.

"Feels like a million dollars. It was important that we won the game tonight. That's quite a good finish to the group stage games," said Ashwin.

The 35-year-old, who has been used as a floater this season, came in at number 5 against his old franchise and was severe on the spinners, hitting three sixes in a tricky run chase that initially threatened to get away from Rajasthan.

Ashwin said his form with the bat was down to a clear brief from the team.

"The fact that they told me that you will be opening in the practice games, you will be used in the powerplay and the amount of repetitions I was given and the simulations ... all these things really help," he said.

"I've been quite innovative in terms of trying to adapt to new techniques and I'm very thankful to the people who have put work behind those and hopefully I can put on a few more good performances like this."

Rajasthan will play table-toppers Gujarat Titans in the first qualifier on Tuesday, while third-placed Lucknow Super Giants will face either Royal Challengers Bangalore or Delhi Capitals in the first eliminator a day later.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Bradley Perrett)

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