IPL 2013:

Brad Hodge scored an unbeaten 29-ball 54 to propel Rajasthan into the second Qualifier © IANS

By Jaideep Vaidya
 
New Delhi: May 22, 2013
 
An under-pressure unbeaten half-century from Brad Hodge snatched a four-wicket win for the Rajasthan Royals over the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Eliminator, which was a low-scoring, yet nail-biting affair.

The Royals will now take on the Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens on Friday for a spot in the final.

Chasing 133 for victory on a slow and low surface, Rajasthan needed 60 runs from the last 42 balls with just five wickets in hand at one stage, after a dramatic mid-innings collapse; the Sunrisers team management would have begun booking their tickets to Kolkata. However, a 38-year-old short and chubby Australian, who last played an international match in 2008, had perhaps booked his tickets earlier.
 
Hodge hit three sixes in four balls off his identically shaped counterparts, Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma, and put the Royals right back on track. However, Dale Steyn dismissed Sanju Samson in the 16th over and put the pressure back on the Sunrisers.

The equation was reduced to 10 to win off the last six balls after an inspired penultimate over bowled by Thisara Perera, that yielded just five runs. Darren Sammy, who had been the pick of the Hyderabad bowlers with two for 15 in three overs, was chosen to bowl the last over. However, Hodge showed his class, kept his cool and propelled the Royals into the second Qualifier with two massive heaves over deep mid-wicket.
 
Rajasthan were rocked early in their chase when Ishant Sharma found Rahul Dravid’s leading edge that carried to point. The Royals crawled along to 28 for one in the first five overs as they looked to keep their wickets intact in the Powerplay. Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson then targeted Ishant in his third over, hitting two boundaries and a six to get 16 from the sixth.
 
But then, just when the Royals were looking to run away with the match, the tournament got yet another one of its spectacular catches. Watson had exchanged a few words with the inexperienced Karan Sharma after pulling the leg-spinner for a boundary to mid-wicket, and went for a bigger one the next ball. Watson slogged hard at a shorter ball and sent it flat towards the mid-wicket boundary; almost everyone present at the Kotla thought that it would go sailing over the fence, but a two-metre tall West Indian stationed at the rope leaped in the air and pouched the ball with two hands, stunning the batsman. Sharma, evidently, had the last stare as Sammy embarked on his trademark dance, sans the pacifier.
 
A confident and buzzing Sammy was tossed the ball in the next over by captain Cameron White, and the decision reaped dividends straight away as he broke through the defence of Dishant Yagnik. Rahane, disconcerted by the sudden loss of partners, succumbed to the pressure and gave leg-spinner Amit Mishra a simple return catch in the next over, before Sammy was back to dislodge the furniture of Stuart Binny. And just like that, in a matter of 20-odd deliveries, Rajasthan had slipped from 50 for one to 57 for five.

But an experienced campaigner was there to put his hand up at a crucial time and take the Royals through to the next round. To add insult to the injuries of Hyderabad, and Sammy in particular, Hodge imitated the West Indian’s baby-rocking dance after scoring the winning six and dedicated it to his kids after being crowned a deserved Man of the Match.

Earlier, Hyderabad managed just 132 for seven on the board on a difficult surface. After winning the toss, White chose to bat first on a pitch that was rather different from the one used in Tuesday’s Qualifier, where the Chennai Super Kings put on 192 on the board. White would have hoped for his team to make use of the dry surface and put on as many runs as possible, but then SRH have crossed 160 just two out of the eight times they had elected to bat first this season. On a difficult surface, passing that mark was always going to be a challenging proposition.

Brief scores:
 
Sunrisers Hyderabad 132 for 7 in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 33, Cameron White 31; Vikramjeet Malik 2 for 14) lost to Rajasthan Royals 135 for 6 in 19.2 overs (Brad Hodge 54*, Shane Watson 24; Darren Sammy 2 for 27) by 4 wickets.

Man of the Match: Brad Hodge
 
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