Rajasthan Royals end RCB's dream run

All that hope and expectation cultivated through a month of toil and some luck dissipated in the hot, dry air of the Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday as Royal Challengers Bengaluru crashed out of the stadium. initial loading-17 after being outplayed by a determined Rajasthan Royals.

The Royal Challengers went into the do-or-die Eliminator clash full of confidence, having won six games on the bounce and miraculously secured the final play-off ticket which seemed out of bounds after a miserable first half where they n have recorded only one victory in eight matches.

Premier champions Rajasthan, on the other hand, were in freefall after failing to win a single match in their last five appearances, with one of them being eliminated. The momentum was entirely on the side of the Royal Challengers, especially given the individual form of most of their players.

The contrasting forms of the two teams were on display here on Wednesday. Despite stuttering with the bat to reach a below-par score of 172/8, then taken to the cleaners by Rajasthan openers Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tom Kohler-Cadmore where they missed the field and dropped a catch, the Royal Challengers never lost confidence as they kept themselves in the hunt. picking up wickets at regular intervals.

And when Virat Kohli conjured a piece of magic from the outfield with a sizzling throw that Cameron Green appeared to collect and catch Dhruv Jurel before that crease in controversial fashion, Rajasthan were in big trouble at 112/4 in the 14th over. An additional 61 from 41 balls was required and while it seemed achievable, especially in modern times, it was still a difficult question given the Royal Challengers' situation. In fact, the Challengers never gave up and continued in Rajasthan till the end.

Riyan Parag, who has brought several wins for Rajasthan this season with his fearless hitting, once again got his hands dirty with a game-changing knock. The Assamese, in the form of his life and striking the ball as well as ever, smashed a superb counter-attacking 36 from 26 balls. More importantly, he forged a 45-run stand off 25 balls with Shimron Hetmyer, whose 17 runs in the 16th over swung the match in Rajasthan's favour.

Parag, who was looking to finish the match quickly, was castled by Mohammed Siraj, but the game was in the Royals' bag as only 16 were needed from as many balls. There was some artificial excitement when Hetmyer also followed him to the shed four balls later, but by that stage even the Challengers knew that pulling off a miracle from there was almost impossible. Rajasthan crossed the line with 6 balls and four wickets to spare to set up a Qualifier 2 clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai on Friday.

While Rajasthan's batters struggled in a routine chase, their bowlers, especially Trent Boult (1/16), were brilliant throughout. He bowled an outstanding opening spell 3-0-6-1 and key spinners R Ashwin (2/19) and Yuzvendra Chahal (1/43) ensured that the RCB batters never got free from their chains by picking up wickets at regular intervals.

Every time RCB seemed to gain momentum, they lost wickets only to eventually settle for a below-par score. The RCB bowlers gave their all, but it was not enough against a determined Rajasthan.

Published May 22, 2024, 5:59 p.m. EAST

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