Royals beat Super Giants as battle for IPL play-off places hots up
Rajasthan Royals moved up to second in the Indian Premier League and are on the brink of sealing a play-off place after a 24-run defeat of Lucknow Super Giants.
Lucknow knew a win at the Brabourne Stadium on Sunday would secure a top-four finish with one game to spare, but they slipped below the Royals into third spot.
Yashasvi Jaiswal top-scored with 41 in Rajasthan's total of 178-6 in Mumbai, with Ravi Bishnoi taking 2-31.
Deepak Hooda's 59 was in vain as Lucknow could only make 154-8 in reply, Trent Boult the pick of the bowlers with 2-18 as the Royals took a big stride towards the play-offs.
Avesh Khan struck a big early blow when he bowled Rajasthan's Jos Buttler in the third over, but Jaiswal and Sanju Samson (32) put on 64 for the second wicket before the captain fell to Jason Holder.
Jaiswal was caught and bowled in Ayush Badoni's only over, but Devdut Padikkal kept Rajasthan ticking with a couple of sixes and five fours.
Bishnoi (2-31) denied Padikkal the chance of a half-century, dismissing him for 39, and also removed Riyan Parag, but Boult added a quickfire unbeaten 17 after Jimmy Neesham was run out.
Neesham, playing his second match of the tournament, took a catch for his New Zealand team-mate Boult to claim the scalp of Quinton de Kock in the third over of the run chase and the left-arm seamer also trapped Badoni leg before first ball.
Lucknow were 29-3 when Prasidh Krishna (2-32) sent KL Rahul packing, but a stand of 65 between Hooda and Krunal Pandya kept them in the game.
Ravichandran Ashwin ended the partnership by sending Pandya on his way for 25, and Hooda was stumped off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal, while Obed McCoy claimed 2-35 in a big win for the Royals.
Brilliant Boult strikes twice
Boult made it advantage the Royals when he took two early wickets in as many balls, preventing De Kock from doing damage and snaring Badoni for a golden duck.
He bowled 14 dot balls in his four overs and conceded only two boundaries, leaving the Super Giants up against it.
Three play-off spots still up for grabs
Gujarat Titans are the only side guaranteed a play-off place as the battle for top-four finishes goes to the wire.
The Royals do battle with Chennai Super Kings in their last game of the league season, while Lucknow must regroup before facing Kolkata Knight Riders.