New Delhi, May 23 Scandal-hit Rajasthan Royals beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by four wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Eliminator here at the Ferozeshah Kotla Wednesday to enter Qualifier 2.
With a small target of 133, Rajasthan Royals had a jittery chase losing wickets at regular intervals but Australian middle-order batsman Brad Hodge (54 not out) made sure that the 2008 champions reached home with four balls to spare.
Sunrisers had scored 132/7 in their 20 overs and in reply the Royals made 135/6 in 19.2 overs.
Rajasthan took off brilliantly with skipper Rahul Dravid (12) hitting three exquisite boundaries to start their chase. However, he edged an Ishant Sharma delivery to backward point in the second over.
Opener Ajinkya Rahane (18) and dependable batsman Shane Watson (24) carried on little by little.
However, a caught and bowled by spinner Amit Mishra and a superb catch on the boundary by Darren Sammy brought an end to Rahane and Watson, respectively.
Royals were put in more than a spot of bother when they lost four wickets in a span of seven runs, putting the brakes on their scoring rate. They went down from 53/1 to 57/5 in four overs.
Nevertheless, Sanju Samson (10) and Hodge, who hit five huge sixes and two boundaries, steadied the ship with a 45-run sixth wicket partnership.
Samson provided good support to Hodge but got out (102/6) bringing in Hodge's compatriot James Faulkner (11 not out).
The duo scored 33 more runs in 4.1 overs to bring Rajasthan home. Hodge hit two magnificent sixes, one towards square leg and the next at long on, off the last two balls to win the match for the Royals.
Darren Sammy was the pick of the bowlers clinching two wickets while Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Karan Sharma and Amit Mishra took one each.
Earlier, Sunrisers Hyderabad started off poorly losing Parthiv Patel (1) and Hanuma Vihari (1) by the third over.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan (33) and skipper Cameron White (31) tried to stabilise the innings with a 52-run third wicket partnership. However, in the process they slowed down and the Royals' bowlers made sure that their run-rate never went above six.
Delhi boy Dhawan tried to stay at the crease without taking too many risks so that he could play the anchor's innings and play the big shots later. However, he perished in the 16th over (83/4).
So slow were the Sunrisers that their first boundary came in the fourth over and their first six in the 15th.
Sammy played a 21-ball 29-run cameo, which included three sixes, propelling the Sunrisers to a 130-par score.
Thisara Perera (11) and Biplab Samantray (14) also chipped in towards the end.
Rajasthan pacer Vikramjit Malik, playing only his second IPL match this season, displayed excellent bowling skills.
He fired immediately by taking the first two wickets in his first two overs and finished with figures of 2/14 from his three overs.
The Jaipur-based team were without the services of a spinner as their regular spinners Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, along with pacer Sreesanth, were caught in the recent spot-fixing scandal.
Faulkner, Watson and Siddharth Trivedi clinched a wicket each.
Qualifer 2 will now be played between Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens, Kolkata Friday.
The winner of that match will play Chennai Super Kings in the final Sunday, also in Kolkata.