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Jaipur: They're just invincible at home, aren't they?
Brad Hodge smashed a rapid-fire 52 and Rahul Shukla bagged three wickets to power Rajasthan Royals to a four-wicket victory over Otago Volts in the 18th match of the Champions League Twenty20 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Tuesday. Royals also ended Otago's remarkable winning streak of 15 in a row.
The Australian hit five boundaries and three sixes in his 23-ball knock as Royals achieved the target of 140 with five balls to spare.
Opener Ajinkya Rahane made a typically aggressive 52, with seven fours, and alongwith Rahul Dravid shared 49 runs for the opening wicket to lay the platform.
Dravid's dismissal in the seventh over triggered a collapse with Rajsthan losing their next three wickets (Sanju Samson, Shane Watson and Stuart Binny) for just 21 runs.
However, veteran Brad Hodge then joined Rahane and put on 44 for the fifth wicket to put Rajasthan back on track. The home team stuttered a bit as they lost Rahane at a crucial juncture but Hodge kept his cool and finished it off with some lusty hitting in the end.
All-rounder Jimmy Neesham was the pick of the bowler with three wickets for 22 runs.
Earlier, Rahul Shukla, who came in as a replacement for Vikramjeet Malik, wrecked Otago by claiming three wickets in his first over. Hamish Rutherford was bowled for 5 runs with a superb delivery that came into the star batsman and clipped the middle stump. Skipper Brendon McCullum and Derek de Boorder followed without troubling the scorers.
The collapse continued as in-form opener Neil Broom was dismissed by Shane Watson in the next over.
Ryan ten Doeschate and Jimmy Neesham tried to rebuild the innings with an innings-best 53-run stand but the pressure of putting up a big score and some consistent bowling probably did them in.
Just when it looked like the pair has done well to stabilize the condition, Kevon Cooper happened. The tall fella from West Indies, who has the knack of picking wickets at crucial times, struck with the first ball of his spell to get rid of dangerous left-hander Neesham (32).
ten Doeschate was key to Otago reaching a competitive now. But on 26, he was lbw to leg spinner Pravin Tambe - Rajasthan's 41-year-old 'youngster'. Who is Tambe, you ask? Read about Royals' secret weapon here.
Nathan McCullum and Ian Butler added 39 runs for the seventh wicket to take Otago to a challenging total.
A win here means Rajasthan will get to play their semi-final at home while Volts will have to wait on Mumbai Indians' result tomorrow.