IPL 2024 Eliminator: Royals Dominate RCB, Book Qualifier 2 Berth

Sanju Samson and Avesh Khan

The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad witnessed a nail-biting encounter as the Rajasthan Royals edged past the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 4 wickets in the IPL 2024 Eliminator. This victory not only snapped the Royals’ losing streak but also halted RCB’s impressive six-game winning run, sending them packing for the season. Royals Dominate RCB, Book Qualifier 2 Berth

Winning the Toss Proves Crucial

Electing to bowl first turned out to be a masterstroke for Rajasthan Royals skipper Sanju Samson. Their bowlers, spearheaded by the wily Ravichandran Ashwin (2/19) and the economical Trent Boult (1/16), restricted a star-studded RCB batting line-up to a manageable 172 runs. This score, while seemingly modest, could have proven trickier under the dew that began settling in during the latter stages of the match.

Boult’s Powerplay Masterclass

The foundation for the Royals’ bowling success was laid by Trent Boult’s exceptional spell in the powerplay. Utilizing a clever strategy of placing both fielders on the leg-side, he squeezed the boundaries off the RCB openers, Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis. The Kiwi pacer conceded a mere six runs in his three overs, forcing both batsmen to struggle for momentum. While Kohli attempted a charge to unsettle Boult, it proved unsuccessful. RCB could only manage 50 runs in the powerplay, a significant setback considering their batting depth.

Ashwin Takes Control in the Middle Overs

The middle overs witnessed a decisive shift in momentum. RCB’s key batsman, Virat Kohli, who had been struggling to break free, fell victim to Yuzvendra Chahal‘s (1/24) spin. However, the turning point arrived with the introduction of Ashwin. The veteran off-spinner displayed exceptional control and variation, denying both Cam Green and Rajat Patidar any scoring opportunities with his carrom balls. He was unlucky to miss Patidar’s wicket due to a dropped catch but soon rectified his misfortune by dismissing both Green and Glenn Maxwell in quick succession. This phase, restricted RCB to a mere 25 runs for the loss of 3 wickets, completely stifling their scoring momentum.

Death Overs: Avesh Fights Back, But Not Enough

Avesh Khan (3/34) initially struggled with his line and length, conceding runs freely in his first two overs. However, he displayed commendable resilience, bouncing back to claim crucial wickets in the death overs. He first had Dinesh Karthik caught behind after a controversial DRS decision that went in his favor. He then accounted for the dangerous Mahipal Lomror, who had briefly threatened to take the game away with his explosive 17-ball 32. Despite Avesh’s valiant effort, RCB fell short of a competitive total, finishing their innings at 172/8.

Royals Start Steadily, But Middle Overs Test Them

In response, the Rajasthan Royals‘ chase began with a cautious approach. While the first two overs yielded only six runs, the following overs saw a flurry of boundaries. Yashasvi Jaiswal (45) and Jos Buttler (22) capitalized on some wayward bowling from Mohammed Siraj and Dayal, putting the Royals in a good position. However, the middle overs brought a period of consolidation for RCB. Swapnil Singh was targeted for runs, but RCB bowlers Ferguson and Karn Sharma applied the brakes, conceding only 16 runs in their combined three overs. The pressure paid off as Jaiswal (gloved to the keeper) and Sanju Samson (stumped) departed in quick succession. RCB found a crucial ally in young all-rounder Cameron Green, whose three overs yielded just 11 runs and mirrored Ashwin’s spell of control in the first innings.

Parag and Hetmyer Seal the Deal

With 47 runs required off the final five overs, the match hung in the balance. However, a crucial knock from the young Riyan Parag (36) and a late cameo from Shimron Hetmyer (26) steered the Royals home. Parag fearlessly took on the RCB bowlers, particularly impressive was his six off the final over bowled by Green. Even though Mohammed Siraj (2/33) managed to pick up two quick wickets, Rovman Powell finished the chase in style with a six off Lockie Ferguson, securing a thrilling victory for the Royals with an over to spare.

Player of the Match: Ravichandran Ashwin

While Parag’s batting and Powell’s finishing touch were crucial, the Player of the Match award deservedly went to Ravichandran Ashwin. His economical

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