A stellar all-round performance by Rajasthan Royals (RR) secured a thrilling four-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) in the Eliminator of the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. This significant win propels RR into Qualifier 2, where they are set to face off against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Chennai.

Winning the toss, RR opted to bowl first. RCB’s innings saw several promising starts from their batters, but none managed to convert them into substantial scores. Each time RCB appeared to be gaining momentum, RR’s bowlers intervened to derail their progress.

Trent Boult kicked things off with a brilliant spell with the new ball, conceding just six runs in his three overs and securing a crucial wicket by dismissing Faf du Plessis for 17. At the opposite end, Sandeep Sharma’s over allowed 12 runs. In the fourth over, Avesh Khan experienced a tough welcome with Virat Kohli hitting him for a six off a pull shot. Boult struck again in the fifth over by getting du Plessis, who was caught at deep mid-wicket by Rovman Powell, after a loose shot attempt.

Cameron Green was promoted to No. 3, overtaking Rajat Patidar. RCB ended their powerplay with a score of 50 for one. In the eighth over, Yuzvendra Chahal was introduced, and Kohli tried to accelerate the run-rate, only to be caught at mid-wicket for 33. This was a crucial breakthrough for RR. Following this, the match saw a tug-of-war as Green attacked Chahal while Patidar played cautiously to find his rhythm.

Simultaneously, R Ashwin delivered a vital spell during the middle overs, containing the run flow effectively. This pressure led to RCB batters taking undue risks. Patidar was let off by a dropped catch at long-on, but Green was soon scalped after scoring 27 from 21 balls, caught by Powell off Chahal’s bowling in the 13th over. Glenn Maxwell was dismissed the very next ball, caught comfortably at long-on, leaving RCB struggling at 97 for four in 13 overs.

Patidar soon found his stride, hitting two sixes within the next seven balls. However, Avesh Khan managed to dismiss him for 34 in the 15th over. Dinesh Karthik stepped in and faced a contentious appeal for leg-before off his first ball, which was overturned by the third umpire.

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In the death overs, Mahipal Lomror’s aggressive play was pivotal in pushing RCB’s total beyond 160. Facing 17 balls, Lomror scored 32. The final over saw Swapnil Singh and Karn Sharma adding crucial boundaries, bringing the total to 172.

RR’s run-chase commenced with RCB bowlers appearing to gain assistance from the pitch, keeping the RR batters contained initially. However, Yashaswi Jaiswal broke the restraint in the third over, hitting four boundaries off Yash Dayal. Among these were a dropped chance at first slip. The openers managed to add 46 to the score. RCB’s first breakthrough came in the fifth over when Lockie Ferguson bowled a deceptive slower ball to castle Tom Kohler-Cadmore for 20.

Sanju Samson and Jaiswal maintained the required run-rate and frequently hit boundaries. Jaiswal progressed into the 40s but was caught behind attempting a scoop shot against Green approaching the halfway mark. Shortly after, Samson was stumped for 17 off a wide delivery from Karn Sharma.

Riyan Parag then took charge of the chase. Though there was a tense moment when Dhruv Jurel was run out impressively by Kohli, Parag remained composed. He paired with Shimron Hetmyer, RR’s Impact Player, to craft a calculated and aggressive response to the bowlers.

With five overs remaining, RR required 48 runs. Hetmyer smashed a six over long-on off Green’s first ball. Subsequently, Parag lofted a six over cover and strategically guided a delivery through third-man for a four, bringing the match within RR’s control as the required rate dropped significantly. Hetmyer’s innings was crucial as he handled the pressure and delivered under tense circumstances. Despite Siraj dismissing both Parag (36 off 26) and Hetmyer (26 off 14), the target was reduced to a run-a-ball scenario. Rovman Powell ensured there were no last-minute hitches, sealing the victory with two fours and a six in the penultimate over.

With this resounding win, Rajasthan Royals move ahead to face Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai. The cricketing world now turns its attention to what promises to be another pulsating encounter.

By IPL Agent

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