DHARAMSALA, (CMC) — Out-of-favour West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer hit 46 and ushered the Rajasthan Royals to a crucial four-wicket win against Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League on Friday in another thrilling last-over finish.
Hetmyer struck four fours and three sixes from 28 balls to follow up half-centuries from Devdutt Padikkal and opener Yashasvi Jaiwal, and Royals chased down 188 at the HPCA Stadium to keep their hopes of a place in the play-offs alive and eliminated the Kings from contention.
Padikkal made 51 off 30 balls, and Jaiswal supported with 50 off 36 balls to lead a collective batting performance from the Royals and set the platform before Hetmyer, Riyan Parag and Impact Player Dhruv Jurel provided the crucial final flourish to take them to victory with two balls remaining.
With 14 points from seven wins in their 14 matches, Royals are currently fifth in the standings, and now set their eyes on Sunday's action, where they need Mumbai Indians to lose to Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Royal Challengers Bangalore to lose by at least six runs to Gujarat Titans in the last fixture of the preliminary stage to qualify.
Royals were jolted early when England T20 International captain Jos Buttler was lbw to South Africa pace bowling sensation Kagiso Rabada for a duck in the second over of the chase.
Jaiswal and Padikkal made sure the pressure was not built up due to the early wicket, and they played aggressively, hitting a slew of fours and sixes to take the score to 57 for one at the end of the Power Play.
Padikkal, whose 30-ball knock included five fours and three sixes, was caught at backward point in the 10th over, and Royals reached 86 for two at the halfway mark before their captain Sanju Samson was caught at deep square leg for two in the 11th over.
Royals still needed 98 from 55 balls, and Hetmyer and Jaiswal cracked three sixes and four fours in the next three overs to accumulate 43, and eased the equation.
With 39 needed off 24 balls, Hetmyer cracked a four off England left-arm pacer Sam Curran first ball, but good fortune favoured him two balls later when Harpreet Brar failed to hold on to a tricky catch at short fine leg.
Another two balls later, the Guyanese left-hander was ruled caught behind when he essayed a pull at a Curran delivery, but he successfully reviewed the decision of umpire Nand Kishore.
With 19 needed off 12 balls, Hetmyer cracked a couple of fours through cover, but Kings captain Shikhar Dhawan pulled off an excellent diving catch at extra cover to dismiss him.
Nine were needed from seven balls, and Dhruv Jurel and Trent Boult took Royals safely to the finish.
Earlier, the middle-order of the Kings came to the rescue of the team after they were put in to bat, and endured an early stutter, stumbling to 50 for four inside seven overs.
England international Sam Curran hit the top score of 49 not out off 31 balls, Jitesh Sharma made 44 off 28 balls, and Shahrukh Khan was not out on 41 off 23 balls, and they propelled the Kings to 187 for five.
Indian pace bowling discard Navdeep Saini was the most successful Royals bowler taking three for 40 from his allotted four overs.
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