Rajasthan Royals beat SRH, to play Mumbai for place in the final
Brad Hodge proved his worth as one of the most sought after T20 cricketers in the world as he single-handedly guided Rajasthan Royals to a four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in a thrilling low scoring ‘Eliminator’ of the Pepsi IPL.
Chasing a target of 133, Hodge hit Darren Sammy for two consecutive sixes to finish the match with four balls to spare and ensure his team’s qualification to the next edition of Champions League T20. Royals will now meet Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier in Kolkata on Friday.
The 38-year-old ‘T20 freelancer’ clobbered his way to a 29-ball 54 not out as Royals pulled off one of their most significant victories after the ‘spot-fixing’ scandal broke out with the arrest of three of their cricketers including S Sreesanth.
Hodge came in at 57 for five but never looked under any kind of pressure as he hit five clean sixes apart from the couple of boundaries.
Skipper Rahul Dravid (12, 3×4) started with three boundaries but closed the face of the bat to an Ishant Sharma delivery which found the leading edge for the point fielder to take the catch.
However, Shane Watson kept on belting boundaries — five of them — as the Royals raced to 50 in the seventh over before the Aussie all-rounder was sent back due to an inspirational piece of fielding by Sammy.
Watson pulled a half-tracker from leggie Karan Sharma which looked sailing towards the ‘cow-corner’ stands and to everyone’s astonishment, Sammy leapt up and took a magnificent catch. The timing of his jump was immaculate as it looked as if he plucked a fruit from a tree.
After performing with the bat and on the field, it was time to roll over his arm and Sammy did not disappoint either.
First, he cleaned up Dishant Yagnik (0) with a fuller delivery and then bowled a cutter which breached Stuart Binny’s defence (2). In between the two dismissals, Amit Mishra foxed Ajinkya Rahane (18) to commit early and got a caught and bowled in his favour.