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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) with seven wickets

Rajasthan Royals stormed to their first IPL final since winning the inaugural title in 2008, beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets in Ahmedabad. The win was set up by their bowlers; Prasidh Krishna and Obed McCoy each took three wickets to limit 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 chase. Jaiswal fell for 21 out of 13 but Buttler was unstoppable. He brought in his fourth hundred of the season, tying Virat Kohli’s record for most centuries in an IPL season.

Such was the dominance of the Royals that the spectators already started to leave the stadium before the game was over. When Buttler hit the winning hit, a six-wide long-on from Harshal Patel, there were 11 balls left.

A streaky start
After winning the toss, Sanju Samson had said the field was looking a bit sticky. While not many balls stopped on the batters, there was extra bounce and movement—both in the air and on the surface—for sailors. Kohli tapped Trent Boult for six over a deep square leg in the first over, but fell to Prasidh in the next, trying to send a back-of-length throw behind the point just to get to the keeper.

After four overs, Royal Challengers were 25 to 1. Then Faf du Plessis got two fours – one of them via a gloved pull that Samson just dodged – from Boult. From the other end, Patidar Prasidh cut past the point before knocking him through the covers for back-to-back fours. He tried another back-foot punch on the next ball, but failed to hold it down. However, Riyan Parag lost the opportunity for a back point. That allowed Royal Challengers to finish the power play in much better shape, at 46 for 1, despite a slow start.

Patidar rides his luck
At one point, du Plessis hit at 22 out of 21 and Patidar at 20 out of 19. Then Patidar struck out and launched Yuzvendra Chahal over long-on for a six. In the 11th over, he had a bit of luck when his shot at McCoy just beat Ashwin by a short third man.

McCoy ended du Plessis’ fight and sent him back for a 27-ball 25, but Glenn Maxwell came in and hit two sixes from the first balls he saw. He then misdirected a pull from Boult in the 14th and was caught on a good leg.

However, Patidar continued to attack, bringing out his fifty balls of 40 with a six from 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 a long distance, but was taken right on the boundary line.

The slow death
Royal Challengers were 132 for 4 after 16 overs and it looked like they would get at least 170. But Chahal, McCoy and Prasidh only gave up 25 from the last four overs. The 19th over from Prasidh was the one that really fed back Royal Challengers. From the first pitch, he removed Karthik when the batter teen-ended to long-on. He then flattened Wanindu Hasaranga’s center and leg stumps with a scorching yorker. Harshal survived the hat trick, but the damage was done.

Buttler and Jaiswal flare up
It wasn’t a big target. In addition, Buttler and Jaiswal gave the Royals a flying start. Jaiswal started by hitting Mohammed Siraj for two sixes and a four in the first over. In the sailor’s next over, Buttler took him for two fours and six. Maxwell slid in a silent over before Buttler Shahbaz took Ahmed apart and crushed him for two sixes and a four. Hazlewood ousted Jaiswal from the power play in the last over, but there was no stopping Buttler putting his fifty forward from just 23 balls.

Samson had a slow start and had 4 of 7 balls before jumping to Shahbaz and long touching him. Buttler skipped two straight fours in the same. Midway through the chase, the Royals had sped away to 103 for 1, taking only 55 of the last ten overs.

No wonder for Royal Challengers
After hitting 66 of 33 balls, Buttler pushed Harshal behind the stumps, but Karthik dropped the catch. However, Hasaranga succeeded in his match-up when he had Samson googly out for 23 of 21 balls. He has now sent Samson off six times in 34 balls while conceding just 25 runs.

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

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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