Scorecard | Match pictures | Schedule | IPL spot-fixing | Tendulkar's injury
Brad Hodge's belligerence saved Rajasthan Royals the blushes on Wednesday night as they scrambled past Sunrisers Hyderabad by four wickets to enter what is effectively the second semifinal of the season.
Royals will face Mumbai Indians in the 'Qualifier 2', a battle to decide who meets Chennai Super Kings in the big final at the Eden Gardens later this month. It was a result they can almost entirely credit to Hodge's 29-ball 54, inclusive of five sixes, two of which came off Darren Sammy's last over with ten needed to win.
Chasing the 133 target they were set by Hyderabad, Royals were jolted as they lost four wickets for seven runs in the face of some tight spin bowling by Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma. Skipper Rahul Dravid was earlier out after a brief counter-attack against Dale Steyn, and the slump in the middle left Royals needing 60 off the last seven overs, with Hodge and Sanju Samson in the middle.
Hodge spanked Sharma back over his head and cleared square-leg for maximums, before hoicking Amit Mishra beyond long-off. Steyn returned to trap Samson with a searing inswinging yorker. Hodge, however, needed just two balls to care care of the last-over target.
Darren Sammy had earlier plucked an impossible, high catch at the boundary of Shane Watson (24) to turn the tide. Dishant Yagnik (0) played a horrible shot against the West Indian captain, and Mishra fooled Ajinkya Rahane (18) into a caught-and-bowled. But it turned out to be a false dawn for the Sunrisers as, for once, they failed to defend a 130-odd score.
It wasn’t a toss won well for White. Parthiv Patel (1) and Hanuma Vihari (1) fell to veteran medium-pacer Vikramjeet Malik, on a pitch not quite amenable to playing shots. Shikhar Dhawan was sedate as he steadied the ship with skipper White, to the end of a risk-eschewed 52 runs, but no sooner than White attempted to up the tempo, he ended up holing out to the deep off the bowling of Siddharth Tridevi.
Dhawan followed suit, hitting James Faulkner straight to short fine leg chasing a successive boundary, and it was left to Sammy and Thisara Perera to swing crucial sixes as Hyderabad accrued 65 in the last six overs. Sammy’s 21-ball 29 ensured that Hyderabad breached their usually defendable score in the vicinity of 130. But tonight proved to be a exception.