Ravichandran Ashwin became the first batter in the history of the Indian Premier League to willingly retire his innings, walking off the ground in the 19th over of Rajasthan’s match against Lucknow.
Ashwin had come to the middle at the halfway point of Rajasthan’s innings but, having made 28 from 22 balls, walked off with 10 balls remaining.
The team’s decision to retire Ashwin allowed Riyan Parag, a noted big-hitter, to come in and slam a brisk eight off four balls as the Royals finished with 6-165 from their 20 overs.
The decision by Rajasthan is perfectly legal and while rarely seen, there have been calls for more teams to employ the tactic in order to get an attacking batter into the game, particularly in short-form cricket where deliveries are at a premium.
Rajasthan head coach Kumar Sangakkara said both Ashwin and the team management were part of the decision.
“Ashwin himself was asking from the field as well, and we had discussed it just before that, as to what we would do,” Sangakkara said.
“I thought the way Ashwin handled that situation, walking in (in the 10th over) under pressure, the way he batted to support the team. And then finally, (he) sacrificed himself in terms of being retired out, (which) was just magnificent.
“And then he went out in the field and backed it up with an excellent, excellent bowling effort.”
Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop labelled the move “fascinating tactics”.
Ashwin retired out is fascinating T20 tactics. T20 is causing us to rethink the way we conceive the game of in the 21st century.😊😊
— Ian Raphael Bishop (@irbishi) April 10, 2022
Batters normally retire their innings only when they have suffered an injury or illness. However, while injured or ill batters can resume batting later in the innings, non-injured players who retire cannot bat again unless the opposition captain allows it.
Law 25.4.3 states, in part: “If a batter retires for any reason other than (injury or illness) … the innings of that batter may be resumed only with the consent of the opposing captain. If for any reason his/her innings is not resumed, that batter is to be recorded as ‘Retired – out’.”
In this instance, Rajasthan had lost four wickets inside 10 overs so sent in Ashwin, an accomplished batter at Test level but not renowned for his power hitting, to solidify the innings.
With his job done after a 68-run partnership, Rajasthan decided to get Parag into the game to ice the innings, a move that proved decisive as they held on to win the match by just three runs.
Captain Sanju Samson praised Ashwin for accepting the strategic move for the benefit of the team.
“It’s about being Rajasthan Royals,” he said.
“We keep trying different things. We have been talking about it before the season.
“We thought that if some situation occurs, we can use it. It was a team decision.”
In last season’s KFC BBL, the Sydney Sixers retired Jordan Silk in the final over of their semi-final against the Adelaide Strikers.