Little-known domestic stronghold Rajat Patidar literally held the biggest podium of his burgeoning career with a magnificent hundred that brought Royal Challengers Bangalore within a sniff of the title fight after beating Lucknow Super Giants by 14 runs in Wednesday’s IPL Eliminator. RCB will meet Rajasthan Royals in Friday’s second qualifier who will decide whether Gujarat Titans’ opponent is out for Sunday’s final. Courtesy Patidar’s 54-ball-112 with 12 fours and seven huge sixes, RCB literally knocked the fill out of the LSG attack, piling an imposing 207 for 4 in 20 overs. For LSG, the only saving grace was Mohsin Khan’s fantastic numbers of 1 in 25.
In response, KL Rahul’s 78 of 59 balls didn’t impress much, other than improving his individual run tally as LSG finished at 193 for 6 after 20 overs.
If Patidar’s hundred have done well for RCB, no words of praise will be enough for the brilliant Harshal Patel (4-0-25-1), whose 18th over full of wide yorkers and off-cutter variations decisively tilted the match in his favor of the team.
After Josh Hazlewood cleared Rahul in the 19th, the RCB team in spirit was already aboard the flight to Ahmedabad.
While Rahul helped himself to three fours and five sixes, but his 96-run stand with Deepak Hooda (45), LSG held a total of six limits in the fight compared to 14 sixes, told a different story.
Especially when RCB hit 21 fours, not counting the nine maximums they had in their innings.
There was a phase where Rahul’s at bat seemed a bit selfish and felt like he was happy as long as he had his 600 runs for the season.
On a day when their famous batting duo trio Faf du Plessis (0), Glenn Maxwell (9) and Virat Kohli (25) failed to captivate a large Eden crowd, RCB’s No. runs came in quarters and sixes from just 19 balls.
While most of the star-studded RCB batters struggled with timing, the 28-year-old looked effortless with his slices, punches, counter-punches and drives to tower above the rest.
And to make the story of Patidar more interesting, he went up for auction this season unsold and joined the team as a replacement after the start when a player named Luvnith Sisodia got injured.
If Sisodia had been okay, RCB would not have needed the services of Patidar, who had raised 65,000 at Eden Gardens.
He set up a match-turning uninterrupted partnership of 92 runs from 41 balls with Dinesh Karthik (37 not out from 23 balls), while RCB scored 84 runs in the last five overs to support the total.
First, he showed a glimpse of his decisiveness to beat Krunal Pandya for three limits and one six within the power play to overshadow Kohli in a 66-run 46-ball partnership.
After reaching his half-century in 28 balls, he took another 21 balls to reach his first hundred in T20s.
He reached the landmark and pulled Mohsin Khan across the square leg with sweet bat timing that summed up his effortless stay in the fold.
RCB lost three key wickets to a well-placed Kohli, Maxwell and Mahipal Lomror in the middle overs to see their run rate plummet.
In-form Dinesh Karthik, who has played the role of perfect finisher for RCB this season, also survived some anxious moments against Ravi Bishnoi at the start.
But Patidar turned it around in the latest over Bishnoi when he slammed the “googly-man” for three sixes and two fours in a row into an over that read 1, 6, 4, 6, 4, 6.
A sloppy LSG also helped his cause as Patidar, who was delayed at 59, 72 and 93. After a 40 minute start delayed due to inclement weather, Lucknow got off to an excellent start as Mohsin was awarded RCB skipper Faf du Plessis for a golden duck in the first about.
Having lost their skipper early, Kohil and Patidar had to wait and see before the latter broke loose against Krunal Pandya in the final over of the power play.
Patidar knocked Krunal for three limits and one six in one over to yield 20 runs to make up for their slow start and cruise to 52/1 in six overs.
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