Royals stun Challengers by four wickets
Sanju Samson smashed his way to a superb 63 and Brad Hodge conjured up a crucial 32-run cameo as Rajasthan Royals held their nerves to humble formidable Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets in a thrilling match.
Riding on a number of small contributions, specially R Vinay Kumar’s final-over assault during which he smashed birthday boy James Faulkner for three sixes, Bangalore posted a challenging 171 for six after asked to bat.
No batsman played a big knock as Chris Gayle top-scored for RCB with a 16-ball 34 but at least four top-order batsmen score more than 20 runs for Bangalore.
Rajasthan responded to the challenge positively with wicket-keeper batsman Samson, who replaced Dishant Yagnik, taking the fight into the rival camp with a blistering knock, laced with nine boundaries, including two sixes.
After Samson’s dismissal, Hodge’s 18-ball 32 and Shane Watson’s patient 41-run knock guided the hosts to win with one ball to spare as Rajasthan remain unbeaten at home.
Right from his arrival at the crease, upon dismissal of Ajinkya Rahane, Samson dealt in boundaries. The hosts were 45 for one in six overs but Samson brought his side back with his run-spree. At half-way mark he guided the side to 80 for two although hosts, lost skipper Rahul Dravid (22) in between.
Watson played a second fiddle and was in good touch as his drives, both grounded and uppish, were struck firmly.
Samson became the youngest batsman to score a fifty in IPL at the age of 18 when he hit a crushing boundary off RP Singh in the cover area. Watson smashed the same bowler over his head as the hosts reached 115 for two in 14 overs.
Samson was dismissed by Ravi Rampaul but it only got better for the hosts as Hodge came up with a match-winning cameo. The Australian along with his compatriot Watson sent the Bangalore bowlers to leather hunt.
Hodge whacked Rampaul for two sixes in the 18th over and it looked an easy stroll for the hosts from there.
However, script changed with RP Singh dismissing Watson in the penultimate over and Vinay Kumar accounting for Hodge in the last over.
Earlier, Bangalore, who were 149 for six after the end of the 19th over, scored 22 runs in the innings’ last over with Vinay Kumar hitting Faulkner over deep mid-wicket, long on and over the bowler’s head for three sixes.
Though Chris Gayle top-scored for RCB with a 16-ball 34, Vinay Kumar’s 22 runs off just six balls could prove to be the deciding factor in the end.