The Rajasthan Royals produced a terrific team performance to defend a low total that was boosted by a flurry of sixes and defended by excellent bowling from Krishnappa Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal to boot Royal Challengers Bangalore out of IPL 2018.
Fifth played sixth on the IPL table, with RR and RCB locked together on 12 points along with the Mumbai Indians, making this a match of great significance in determining who will contest the playoffs.
Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi put on 99 for the second wicket before Umesh Yadav struck again in an eventful 14th over. He first trapped Rahane (33 off 31 balls) leg-before and, with the next delivery, he tricked Sanju Samson into chipping straight to Moeen Ali at short midwicket. South African Heinrich Klaasen navigated the hat-trick ball before being trapped in front and given out off the third ball he faced. The decision was overturned on appeal as the batsman clearly got a big knick on the ball before it hit him in front of the pad.
Two wickets and three runs off the over left Yadav with figures of 3-25 (econ 6.25) and RR on 104-3 after 14 overs, with much work still to be done.
Tripathi and Klaasen kept things rolling along at around eight an over in the face of disciplined bowling from Ali, Mohammed Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal. Klaasen hit 12 off the 19th over before holing out to leave his side on 149-4, his 32 runs coming off 21 balls (3×4, 1×6).
In the final over, Gowtham hit his first two balls from Tim Southee high and handsome for lusty sixes, then squeezed a fuller delivery to short third man… and cheekily dashed back for a second run, with the throw missing the stumps. The final two balls were both pretty wide and might have been called wides on another day, with Gowtham being run out for 14 (five balls, S/R 280.00) attempting to steal a single to the keeper.
Tripathi carried his bat for a well-struck 80 off 58 balls (5×4, 3×6, S/R 137.93) that rescued what has been a disappointing series for him prior to this innings. The innings lifted his figures substantially, taking his series tally to 206 runs at an average of 25.75.
In reply, RCB needed to pass RR’s target of 164 off 15.5 overs in order to hope to qualify for the playoffs on net run rate. Gowtham started well, restricting Virat Kohli and Parthiv Patel to two singles off the first over, before the latter took Jofra Archer to task in the second over, twice gliding short deliveries over the slip cordon for six. Kohli then played across the line in trying to up the pace to a slightly quicker delivery from Gowtham and was bowled for four runs off nine balls. Gowtham’s figures at that stage were 1-6 off two overs (econ 3.00).
Enter AB de Villiers, and Archer’s miserable afternoon continued, the South African smashed three fours off his next over. Patel and AB kept the scoreboard rolling at more than the eight runs an over required, until Patel fell to Gopal for 33 off 21 balls (3×4, 2×6).
Ali and Mandeep Singh followed shortly after, also to the miserly bowling of Gopal, as RCB struggled to 85-4, with the bulk of responsibility shifting onto AB’s shoulders, the South African going to his 50 off 31 balls (seven fours).
New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi induced an edge from countryman Colin de Grandhomme for two to ramp up the pressure at 95-5, with skipper Ajinkya Rahane taking a sharp catch at first slip. Then came the big wicket, as AB misread a googly from Gopal, his foot sliding out the crease as his Titans and SA team-mate Klaasen completed his third stumping of the innings, sending AB to an early shower after a well-played 53.
Gopal (4-16, econ 4.00), Ben Laughlin (2-15, econ 7.50), Sodhi (1-31, econ 7.75) and Gowtham (1-6, econ 3.00) all bowled superbly as the Royals ran out comfortable winners by 30 runs, moving to 14 points on the table to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Main photo: Deepak Malik/SPORTZPICS for BCCI