Dubai: Shimron Hetmyer and Gurkeerat Singh came to the party to take Royal Challengers Bangalore home against Sunrisers Hyderabad by four wickets in an Indian Premier League (IPL) thriller late on Saturday evening in Bengaluru.
RCB, who were looking down in the dumps after losing both skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers cheaply, found their heroes in Hetmyer (75 off 47 deliveries, four fours, six sixes) and Singh (65 off 48; eight fours and a six) who stitched together a 144-run partnership for the fourth wicket. The hosts, who were out of reckoning before, thus ended their league matches on a winning note by reaching their target of 176 with four balls to spare.
Bangalore have, in the bargain, made life difficult for Sunrisers who have now ended their campaign with 12 points from all their 14 matches. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who play their final match tomorrow against Mumbai Indians, are on same number of points and can still squeak through if they can win the tough outing away from home.
Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians have earlier qualified as the first three teams.
Earlier in the day, Delhi returned to their winning ways when they outplayed Rajasthan Royals. Delhi ended their group stage campaign with a five-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals (RR) at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi.
The win ensured that they finish with 18 points from 14 games with nine wins. Unless Mumbai Indians win their last game against KKR today, Delhi will finish in the top-two on the points table.
It was only poetic justice that Rishabh Pant (53 not out, 38b, 4x2, 6x5) finished the game with a six for Capitals after being pulled up for throwing away his wicket towards the end of a few games this season.
With figures of 3/26, Ish Sodhi was the pick of the bowlers for RR.
Chasing 116 for victory, it wasn’t a walk in the park for the Delhi batsmen as the Rajasthan bowlers stuck to the task of picking up wickets at regular intervals. It started with Sodhi dismissing Shikhar Dhawan (16) and Prithvi Shaw (8) off successive deliveries in the fourth over.
Skipper Shreyas Iyer and Pant then tried to strike a partnership, but just when it looked like they would take Delhi home, Shreyas Gopal sent back Iyer (15) to break the 33-run stand with the scoreboard reading 61/3 in the 8th over.
Coling Ingram too failed to provide the required support to Pant as Sodhi had him caught by Ajinkya Rahane for a 23-ball 12. It was quite a struggle for the South Africa batsman as Royals spinners spun a web around him on a low and slow Kotla wicket.
But Pant kept his calm and ensured that he held one end up as Delhi reached the target with 23 balls to spare.
Earlier, it was Delhi Capitals all the way at the Feroz Shah Kotla after Rajasthan Royals won the toss and decided to bat first.
Needing a victory to keep their chances of cementing a top-two finish alive, the Delhi bowlers did their job to the core as they restricted RR to 115/9 in their 20 overs.
Riyan Parag’s (50; 48 balls, 4x4, 6x2) knock was the only silver lining in the Rajasthan innings as the youngster helped the visitors amass 45 runs in the last five overs. For Delhi, while Amit Mishra finished with figures of 3/17, Ishant Sharma played the senior pacer’s role to perfection in Kagiso Rabada’s absence, finishing with figures of 3/38.
Rajasthan’s joy ended soon after the toss as reinstated skipper Ajinkya Rahane failed to rise to the captain’s role as he mistimed a flick to be caught by Shikhar Dhawan off Ishant Sharma for two. The score read 11/1 in the second over.
But Ishant wasn’t done yet as he returned in the next over to dismiss Liam Livingstone (14) as the opener failed to read a slower ball which disturbed the timber. The score read 20/2 in the fourth over. But this was just the beginning of Rajasthan’s horror as Sanju Samson was next run out by Prithvi Shaw for 5 as the score read 26/3.
Ishant then came back to dismiss Mahipal Lomror for 8. After that it was the Amit Mishra show as he sent back Shreyas Gopal (12) and Stuart Binny (0) off successive balls.
A hat-trick was on the cards, but Trent Boult dropped a sitter off K. Gowtham’s bat. However, Mishra had his man caught by Ishant for 6 in his next over. With the scoreboard reading 65/7 in the 12th over, it was all about playing the full quota of overs after that.
— With inputs from IANS