Royals eclipse Sunrisers

Royals eclipse Sunrisers

Battlers Rajasthan to take on Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 for a place in final

Royals eclipse Sunrisers

It had been a crisis week for Rajasthan Royals. They seemed to be up against one more when Sunrisers Hyderabad fought back in the second innings to put themselves on course for victory.

 But Brad Hodge, the dangerous Australian, produced a doughty innings to cut short Hyderabad’s run in the Indian Premier League and give his team a four-wicket victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Wednesday.

On a slow pitch, Hyderabad crawled to 132/7 in 20 overs after winning the toss but ensured it was not a cruise for Royals. It was tough till Hodge (54 n.o., 29 balls, 2x4, 5x6) unveiled his batting skills, guiding them to a clash on Friday against Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 for a place in the final.

Possessing one of the most compact bowling unit, Hyderabad rose over their batting blues to stifle Royals’ progress when they had them gasping at 57/5. 

The way Rahul Dravid got cracking with three crisp drives belied the difficulty of their chase. His dismissal off Ishant Sharma, an edge that went to Karan Sharma, was a bitter pill to digest but Shane Watson, waiting in the wings, proved a reassuring touch. He quickly got down to business, pulling with panache.

It was the pull shot, however, that scripted his downfall when he bit the bait of leg-spinner Karan Sharma. Dishant Yagnik, Ajinkya Rahane and Stuart Binny followed in a procession to leave Royals on the verge of defeat.

But No 7 Hodge, a slog over specialist, gave a wonderful display of muscular onslaught that left Karan hurting as he conceded 18 runs in an over. The equation was quick to turn into a run-a-ball situation with Hodge leading the attack to the bowlers. The loss of a couple of partners also didn’t slow him down as he beautifully paced his innings.

Needing 10 off 12, he slammed Darren Sammy, who was having a good day till then, for two successive sixes before breaking into an imitation of the West Indian’s cradling act.

Royals were impressive in their bowling too — a collective effort than one of individual brilliance. Their medium pacers bowled tidily and made strokeplay difficult. Vikramjeet Malik, playing only his second match of the season, deserved special mention.

Opening the bowling, he kept a tight line and used the seam well, giving Royals early breakthroughs. Dravid cleverly used his bowlers in short spells and denied the Hyderabad batsmen the time to settle.

The early departures of Pathiv Patel and Hanuma Vihari pegged them back and runs came in a trickle. Shikhar Dhawan (33), local boy and star batsman in the line-up, dug in his heels but couldn’t do much to propel the scoring. He and Cameron White’s 53-run partnership seemed to provide the answers to their precarious situation before White fell to Sidharth Trivedi’s slower ball.

In the absence of suitable partners, Dhawan had to curtail his flair but eventually perished when attempting to step on the pedal in the 15th over. Dhawan had scooped James Faulkner for a boundary to fine leg but a repeat found Trivedi palming the ball.

Sammy cleared a bit of gloom with three sixes but his innings met a dismal end when a throw from Rahul Shukla from the cover boundary to wicket-keeper Yagnik found him short of ground. Hyderabad, obviously, were short of a par total. And Royals, bruised and with a point to prove, lapped up the offering to give themselves another day to live and fight.

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