In a thrilling match that went all the way to the wire, Rajasthan Royals defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Monday. Chasing RCB's 171 for 6, Rajasthan scored 173 for 6 and won with a ball to spare.
In a dramatic last over, Rajasthan almost squandered victory after Brad Hodge (32) was bowled by a slower ball from Vinay Kumar and Virat Kohli ran out Owais Shah with a brilliant throw from the deep. Rajasthan needed four from the last three balls and Stuart Binny cracked the winning four at long-on for Rajasthan's sixth win and a clean slate at home.
Rajasthan and Bangalore are level on points (12 each), but RCB (10) have played a game more. This was Bangalore's fourth defeat on-the-trot in away games. RCB skipper Virat Kohli said his team was "15-20 runs short."
The Rajasthan chase started on a dramatic note. Rahul Dravid was dropped at second slip by Kohli off Ravi Rampaul in the very first ball. That blemish did not take Dravid's focus away as he timed the ball well and scored the bulk of the initial runs. The hosts lost their first wicket in the third over when Ajinkya Rahane top-edged a pull off Rampaul and perished for 2.
Sanju Samson earned a surprise promotion to No. 3 and it turned out to be a master stroke as the 18-year-old from Thiruvananthapuram clearly came out with an aggressive intention. The wicket-keeper batsman, dropped on 12 by Chris Gayle at slips, overtook Dravid with a flurry of blinding strokes. Two back-to-back inside out sixes over extra cover off the wily Murali Karthik took everyone by surprise as Rajasthan paced their innings well.
But Moises Henriques got the breakthrough RCB wanted as Dravid played an unusual wild pull to see the slower ball from the Aussie crash onto the stumps. The Rajasthan skipper made a 17-ball 22 with four fours.
Rampaul got a crucial breakthrough in the 15th over getting rid of the dangerous Samson for 63. After a 41-ball innings that contained seven boundaries and two sixes, Man of the Match Samson, the youngest to score a 50 in IPL, was caught at point after getting a leading trying to pummel a slower ball to mid-wicket. It ended a solid 68-run partnership between Samson and Shane Watson but set up Rajasthan beautifully for a thrilling chase. The hosts needed 52 from 30 balls and with Watson and the experienced Hodge in the middle, there was hope in the air.
The Australian duo smashed 46 runs off 25 balls and when Watson perished top-edging a big pull against RP Singh, Rajasthan needed 10 to win from 9 balls. Watson scored 41 off 31 balls and laced it with three fours and a six. Hodge played an 18-ball cameo, slamming 32 runs, taking 17 off Rampaul's last over. This knock was definitely decisive.
But RCB were inÂ no mood to give up. Kohli ran out Shah and Rajasthan were still four runs adrift of their target. But it was going to be Rajasthan's day as Binny stole RCB's thunder with a lusty hit at long on. "It was really close and happy that the team held itself till the last," said Dravid.
Earlier, Watson took 3 for 22 as a 33-run third wicket partnership between Kohli (32) and AB De Villiers (21) helped Royal Challengers Bangalore score a challenging 171 for 6 in their 20 overs after being asked to bat first. A late charge by Vinay Kumar (6-ball 22 with three sixes) actually turned the tide for the visiting side.
The RCB innings ran hot and cold after Gayle gave the visitors a flying start on a good batting track. The big Jamaican was all brute force as he smashed six fours and a six in a 16-ball 34 that was ended by Watson. The Australian got one to pitch outside off and Gayle played a lazy expansive drive only to edge to the keeper.
Left-handed opener Abhinav Mukund left after a quickfire 21-ball 19 and the RCB innings soon hit a roadblock with De Villiers and Kohli struggling to find the boundaries. It took the duo 42 balls to find a flurry of fours as De Villiers broke the shackles with a four at mid-wicket off spinner Ajit Chandila.
But De Villiers soon ran out of steam even after enjoying a 'life' at 16 when Sreesanth failed to judge a high catch. Sreesanth, however, made amends getting De Villiers to hole out to James Faulkner at deep point, the same area where he let off the dangerous South African batsman.
Watson came back for his second spell to get the better of Kohli, who was caught by birthday-boy James Faulkner at long on, trying to force the pace in the 16th over. Kohli's 35-ball stay at the middle was unimpressive as he failed to strike the ball cleanly. He made a hash of a slower ball from Watson and an ambitious pull from outside the off-stump lacked the power and elevation to clear the fence. Kohli left a disappointed man, banging his helmet on his leg-guard.
Kohli however crossed a milestone. When on 32, the young and temperamental RCB skipper crossed 2000 IPL runs, only the ninth man to do this.
RCB dropped Tillakaratne Dilshan today and included the Australian all-rounder Moises Henriques, who was run out after a 19-ball 22. Chasing a second run in the 19th over, he was caught high and dry by a flat throw from point by Faulkner.