IPL: Rajasthan's Brad Hodge emerges as hero in eliminator game
Hyderabad 132-6 (20 ov)
Rajasthan 135-6 (19.2 ov)
Toss Hyderabad, chose to bat
Hyderabad Dhawan 33, White 31, Sammy 29; Malik 2-14
Rajasthan Hodge 54 not out, Watson 24; Sammy 2-27
Man of the match Brad Hodge (Rajasthan)
Over the past week, what had promised to be a dream Indian Premier League season for Rajasthan Royals had been transformed into a nightmare.
When they lost four wickets for seven runs two-thirds of the way through an Eliminator game they had controlled, it seemed as though fate had a cruel ending in store for them.
But in Brad Hodge, they found an experienced hand, who had just enough nous and skill to take them over the line.
The Hyderabad Sunrisers, despite a stellar all-round show from Darren Sammy, were left to reflect on another mediocre batting effort, and a target (133) too small for even their super attack to defend.
Sammy smashed a 21-ball 29 and then took two for 27 with the ball, but it was Hodge, with 54 from 29, who had the last, and ultimately, decisive word on proceedings.
Rajasthan's chase started well, with captain Rahul Dravid stacking up the boundaries, but a hint of away movement took an attempted flick off Ishant Sharma to point.
Shane Watson targeted Ishant next, taking two fours in successive overs, a sequence interrupted only by a straight six from Ajinkya Rahane.
Then Karan Sharma came on and Watson pulled with withering power for four.
The next ball appeared to be clearing the rope, only for Sammy to snaffle the catch with nonchalant ease.
After that, Sammy clean bowled both Dishant Yagnik and Stuart Binny; Rahane had also gone by then, chipping a return catch to Amit Mishra as 50 for one became 57 for five and suddenly what had looked as if it would be an assured win was wide open.
Two sixes and a four from Hodge in a Karan over that went for 18 put Rajasthan back in the ascendancy, and though Steyn returned to trap Sanju Samson in front, Hodge and James Faulkner took them over the line.
When Hyderabad batted, few expected Dravid to throw the ball to Vikramjeet Malik, who has struggled with injury in recent times. Malik took just six balls to make an impact as Parthiv Patel skied one off the leading edge to cover.
With the slow pitch working in his favour, Malik struck again, Hanuma Vihari popping a pull to mid-on. It took 23 balls for Shikhar Dhawan to strike the first four of the innings, and things appeared to be looking up as both he and Cameron White took fours off Malik's next over on their way to a 52-run stand.
But Siddharth Trivedi turned the game back in Rajasthan's favour, sending White back after he had made 31 off 28 balls.
Trivedi finished an outstanding spell with one for 18, and it was not till the first ball off the 15th over that Sammy hit the first six of the innings off Watson.
He added 28 with Dhawan, whose 39-ball 33 was a subdued affair that ended when an attempt to reprise a deft scoop landed in short fine leg's hands.
Sammy and Thisara Perera also added 28 as Hyderabad eyed a strong finish. But a brilliant flat throw from Rahul Shukla caught Sammy short of his ground, and Perera followed in the same over, edging behind.
Rajasthan will now play the Mumbai Indians tomorrow for a place in Sunday's final against the Chennai Super Kings.
Dileep Premachandran is the managing editor at Wisden India.
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