In a thrilling encounter at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Rajasthan Royals (RR) emerged victorious over Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) by four wickets in the Eliminator match of the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024. This win propels RR into Qualifier 2, where they are set to face Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Chennai.

The match began with RR winning the toss and opting to bowl. RCB’s innings displayed potential as several batters made promising starts, but none managed to convert them into substantial scores. Each time RCB seemed to be gaining momentum, RR’s bowlers would strike back, taking timely wickets to stifle their progress.

Trent Boult set the tone early with a brilliant spell, conceding only six runs in his three overs and claiming the key wicket of RCB’s captain, Faf du Plessis, who scored 17 runs. On the other end, Sandeep Sharma leaked 12 runs in the second over, adding some early pressure. Avesh Khan entered the fray in the fourth over and was greeted with a six by Virat Kohli, a sign of RCB’s attacking intent. Nevertheless, Boult removed du Plessis in the fifth over, courtesy of a sharp catch by Rovman Powell.

Cameron Green, slotted in at No. 3 ahead of Rajat Patidar, took charge but RCB ended their powerplay at a relatively modest 50 for one. In a crucial move, RR introduced Yuzvendra Chahal in the eighth over. As Kohli sought to amp up the scoring rate, he ended up miscuing a shot to mid-wicket, where he was caught for 33, delivering a significant blow to RCB.

The middle overs turned into a period of consolidation and counter-attack. Green went after Chahal, while Patidar appeared cautious, focusing on getting his eye in. Meanwhile, R Ashwin bowled a tight spell, restricting the runs and applying pressure on the RCB batters. This pressure led RCB to take undue risks, and even though Patidar had a lifeline when dropped at long-on, the aggressive Green fell for 27 off 21 balls, with Powell taking his second catch of the match.

Things went from bad to worse for RCB as Glenn Maxwell threw his wicket away the very next delivery, leaving them at 97 for four in 13 overs. Patidar then provided a brief respite by hitting two sixes but eventually succumbed to Avesh Khan, being caught at mid-off for 34 in the 15th over.

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Dinesh Karthik entered the scene, immediately facing a contentious leg-before appeal that was overturned by the third umpire. In the death overs, Mahipal Lomror’s brisk 32 off 17 balls ensured RCB posted a competitive total. Swapnil Singh and Karn Sharma chipped in with a few boundaries in the final over, taking RCB to 172.

As RR began their chase, early signs indicated that RCB bowlers might receive some assistance from the pitch. For the first couple of overs, the RR batters were kept in check. However, Yashaswi Jaiswal broke free in the third over, hitting four boundaries off Yash Dayal, including a tough catch dropped at first slip. The openers added 46 runs before RCB struck in the fifth over, with Lockie Ferguson deceiving Tom Kohler-Cadmore with a slower ball to bowl him out for 20.

Sanju Samson and Jaiswal maintained the launch rate needed to chase down the target. Jaiswal looked set for a big innings but fell in the 10th over, gloving a scoop to the wicketkeeper off Green’s bowling, having scored 40. Soon after, Samson’s aggressive approach backfired when he charged down the track to Karn Sharma, only to be stumped for 17.

At this juncture, the onus was on Riyan Parag to steer the run-chase. A moment of brilliance from Virat Kohli saw Dhruv Jurel run-out, adding a tinge of anxiety in the RR camp. Yet, Parag remained composed and, along with impact player Shimron Hetmyer, orchestrated a measured yet forceful onslaught on the bowlers.

With five overs remaining, RR required 48 runs. Hetmyer smacked a six off the first ball of Green’s over, and Parag followed up with a lofted six over cover alongside a deft boundary through third-man. These blows decisively swung the momentum in RR’s favor, with the required run-rate no longer posing a challenge.

Despite Mohammad Siraj’s late efforts to dismiss both Parag (36 off 26) and Hetmyer (26 off 14), RR had brought the equation down to a run-a-ball. Rovman Powell ensured there were no further hiccups by finishing the game with two boundaries and a six, sealing the victory for RR in the penultimate over.

The focus now shifts to Chennai, where Rajasthan Royals will clash with Kolkata Knight Riders in Qualifier 2, with high stakes and the season’s climax drawing near.

By IPL Agent

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