Shreyas spells RCB's doom

Shreyas spells RCB's doom

JIG OF DELIGHT: Rajasthan Royals' Shreyas Gopal celebrates after dismissing Royal Challengers Bangalore's Moeen Ali on Saturday. PTI

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s spirited run for a play-off berth was ended by Rajasthan Royals who beat them by 30 runs in a must-win Indian Premier League contest at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Saturday.

RCB, who entered the field as favourites after being on a three-match winning streak, could not pull it off against the hosts. With six wins and eight losses, they finished their campaign with 12 points. Royals, on the other hand, kept themselves alive by notching 14 points.

The hosts, spurred by opener Rahul Tripathi’s unbeaten 80 (58b, 5x4, 3x6), made a competitive 164/5. Umesh Yadav was the best bowler for RCB with figures of 3/25 on a slow surface and in energy-sapping conditions.

RCB, who needed to wind-up the chase within 16 overs to finish with a better Net Run Rate than Mumbai, fell apart in 19.2 overs for 134. They were guilty of poor shot-making as they tripped over the crafty leg-spin of Shreyas Gopal (4/16).

The visitors suffered an early blow when they lost Virat Kohli in the third over. The RCB captain stepped out to K Gowtham but the ball spun to clatter his stumps. AB de Villiers then showed the way. The South African was quick to adjust to the slow pitch and his partnership of 55 with Parthiv Patel for the second wicket got the RCB chase back on track.

It was Gopal who stepped in to separate the two. Patel, looking to pull him, was stumped by Heinrich Klaasen with some swift glove-work. Three balls later, Moeen Ali, among the English players to stay back after being axed from the first Test against Pakistan, chipped the ball back to Gopal who took a fine return catch.

Gopal returned to snare Mandeep Singh and an over later Ish Sodhi reduced RCB to 96/5 when Colin de Grandhomme edged to slips in a classical leg-spinner dismissal. De Villiers stood firm amidst the carnage. His gritty half-century against the odds kept RCB breathing, but Gopal was in a zone. His googly foxed De Villiers, who stepped out to drive, and Klaasen whipped the bails in a flash. Gopal, hands cupping the face, celebrated in utter disbelief. It proved to be a crucial jolt for RCB who sank without much fight.

Earlier, Yadav (3/25) was once again splendid with the ball for RCB. He was quick to dismiss Jofra Archer, promoted to open the innings, but Tripathi took over and forced the pace with fluent strokeplay. With captain Ajinkya Rahane for company, he stitched a 99-run stand for the second wicket. They, however, couldn’t accelerate much during the middle overs, with Royals collecting a mere 74 in the first 10 overs.

Yadav turned on the heat in the 14th over. Rahane, moving across, was trapped leg before off the first ball and in the next, Sanju Samson’s ill-timed flick got him a golden duck. With Tripathi firmly holding one end, Klaasen and Gowtham indulged in lavish hitting. RCB leaked 51 runs in the last five overs to help Royals climb to a competitive total. It, though, was not out of reach.