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'Confidence will come right back' for Royals after Eliminator win, says Ashwin

"We were definitely asking ourselves some questions. But the character the team showed, I am really happy," Sanju Samson says

R Ashwin has revealed that he was not able to complete his action the way he wanted to because of an abdominal injury in the first half of IPL 2024.
In his first nine games of the season, Ashwin picked up just two wickets at an economy of 9.00. In the next four, he has taken seven at 6.81. That included 2 for 19 in four overs in a winning cause against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) in the Eliminator on Wednesday.
"Truth be told, [in] the first half of the season, my body wasn't moving at all," Ashwin, the Player of the Match, said on the official broadcast after the game. "I felt like I wasn't able to complete my action on many occasions. I had a little bit of an abdomen injury as well. So I couldn't really get through it a lot.
"But having committed to your franchise and the kind of boys we have in the dressing room, I put my body on the line in many of the games. For me, it was more about the rhythm, and [about] hitting the right lengths. You come from Test-match mode, your body also needs to get into it... I mean, I am ageing, so it's not that easy anymore.
"But as the tournament went on… the amount of repetitions I need for the T20 game is a lot; I actually bowl a lot off the game time as well. I needed that amount of bowling time to get into the rhythm."
The victory ended Rajasthan Royals' (RR) five-match winless streak. At one point, they had eight wins in nine games and looked favourites to finish in the top two after the league stage. But their form tapered off after that, which coincided with Shimron Hetmyer's injury and Jos Buttler's departure for national duty.
After missing four games, Hetmyer returned for the Eliminator and scored 26 off 14 balls to help RR cross the line.
"We haven't done incredibly well over the last few games," Ashwin said. "Our batting found it a little tough to put par-plus scores on the board. We lost Jos Buttler; Shimron Hetmyer was injured - some crucial blows at the top of the order and in the middle. It's not easy for any team to come out of that. I thought we were a bit rusty chasing 170 [173], but that confidence will come right back into the dressing room now."
RR will now face Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 in Chennai. Speaking about that, Ashwin said, "The greatest strength of our team is the exuberance of youth and the balance of the senior players. Now that Hettie is back and Rovman [Powell] also got a few boundaries away, which is very critical for us, we would be going confident into that game. We've got a decent spin attack; we've got Keshav [Maharaj] sitting outside. If you can get off to a good start against SRH, you never really know."
RR captain Sanju Samson, who said he isn't quite at his best health-wise, also lauded his team's character for coming out from a rut.
"What cricket and life has taught us is we will have some great phases, and we'll have some really bad phases," he said. "But we need to have the character to think that we can bounce back at the crucial moment. Looking at the last four-five games, we have not had any momentum. We had been completely losing all the games, and coming here at the knockouts, we were definitely asking ourselves some questions. But the character the team showed, [and] the way we fielded, the way we batted, the way we bowled, I am really happy.
"I am not 100%. We have been having a bug in our team. A lot of people are infected; a lot of coughs in the dressing room. We have been travelling a lot and not recovering well."