Buttler ton, Prasidh-McCoy show put Royals in IPL final

Buttler ton, Prasidh-McCoy show put Royals in IPL final

Rajasthan Royals 161 for 3 (Buttler 106*, Samson 23, Hazlewood 2-23) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 157 for 8 (Patidar 58, du Plessis 25, Prasidh 3-22, McCoy 3-23) by seven wickets

Rajasthan Royals stormed to their first IPL final since winning the title in the inaugural season in 2008, beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets in Ahmedabad. The win was set up by their bowlers; Prasidh Krishna and Obed McCoy picked up three wickets each to restrict Royal Challengers to 157 for 8.

Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal then added 61 in just 5.1 overs for the first wicket, breaking the back of the chase. Jaiswal fell for 21 off 13 but Buttler was unstoppable. He brought up his fourth hundred of the season, equalling Virat Kohli’s record for most centuries in an IPL season.

Such was Royals’ dominance that the spectators had started leaving the stadium even before the game was over. When Buttler hit the winning hit, a six over wide long-on off Harshal Patel, there were still 11 balls remaining.

A streaky start
After winning the toss, Sanju Samson had said the pitch looked a bit sticky. While not many balls stopped on the batters, there was extra bounce and movement – both in the air and off the surface – on offer for seamers. Kohli flicked Trent Boult for six over deep square leg in the first over but fell to Prasidh in the next, trying to steer a back-of-length delivery behind point only to edge to the keeper.

At the end of four overs, Royal Challengers were 25 for 1. Then Faf du Plessis got two fours – one of them via a gloved pull that just evaded Samson – off Boult. From the other end, Patidar cut Prasidh past point before punching him through covers for back-to-back fours. He tried another back-foot punch on the next ball but failed to keep it down. Riyan Parag, however, spilled the chance at backward point. That allowed Royal Challengers to finish the powerplay in a much better state, at 46 for 1, despite a slow start.

Patidar rides his luck
At one point, du Plessis was batting on 22 off 21 and Patidar on 20 off 19. Then Patidar teed off, launching Yuzvendra Chahal over long-on for a six. In the 11th over, he had another slice of luck as his slash off McCoy just beat Ashwin at short third man.

McCoy did put an end to du Plessis’ struggles, sending him back for a 27-ball 25, but Glenn Maxwell came in and hit two sixes off the first balls he faced. Then, he mistimed a pull off Boult in the 14th over and was caught at fine leg.

Patidar, though, kept attacking and brought up his fifty, off 40 balls, with a six off Chahal. In the 16th over, he launched Ashwin over deep midwicket for his third six of the innings. On the next ball, he tried to clear long-off but was taken right on the boundary line.

The slow death
Royal Challengers were 132 for 4 after 16 overs and looked set to reach at least 170. But Chahal, McCoy and Prasidh conceded only 25 off the last four overs. The 19th over from Prasidh was the one that really pegged Royal Challengers back. Off the first ball, he removed Karthik as the batter toe-ended one to long-on. Next, he flattened Wanindu Hasaranga’s middle and leg stumps with a searing yorker. Harshal survived the hat-trick ball but the damage had been done.

Buttler and Jaiswal blaze away
It wasn’t a big target. On top of that, Buttler and Jaiswal gave Royals a flying start. Jaiswal started by hitting Mohammed Siraj for two sixes and a four in the first over. In the seamer’s next over, Buttler took him for two fours and six. Maxwell slipped in a quiet over before Buttler took apart Shahbaz Ahmed, smashing him for two sixes and a four. Hazlewood got rid of Jaiswal in the last over of the powerplay but there was no stopping Buttler who brought up his fifty off just 23 balls.

Samson had a slow start and was on 4 off 7 balls before skipping down to Shahbaz and hitting him over long-on. Buttler hit two successive fours in the same over. By the halfway stage in the chase, Royals had raced away to 103 for 1, requiring only 55 from the last ten overs.

No miracle for Royal Challengers
Having reached 66 off 33 balls, Buttler edged Harshal behind the stumps but Karthik dropped the catch. Hasaranga, though, nailed his match-up when he had Samson stumped off a googly for 23 off 21 balls. He has now dismissed Samson six times in 34 balls while giving away only 25 runs.

Despite only 14 runs coming from overs 12 to 15, Royals still needed just 32 from the last five overs. Buttler then hit Hasaranga for two sixes in an over, crossing 800 runs for the season in the process. He reached his hundred off 59 balls and then wrapped up the game with his sixth six of the night.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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