Young Shreyas Gopal spun a web around a star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore batting line-up to claim four wickets for 16 runs and help Rajasthan Royals score a 30-run victory and stay in the reckoning for a play-offs berth in the Indian Premier League, in Jaipur, on Saturday.
The 24-year-old leg-spinner led a fine bowling display by the home side as it shot out the Royal Challengers for just 134 in 19.2 overs, after opening batsman Rahul Tripathi had helped the Royals post a competitive 164 for 5 with a solid, unbeaten 80 off 58 balls, at the Sawai Mansingh stadium.
South African superstar AB de Villiers briefly threatened to take the game away for RCB with a 35-ball 53, but Gopal and his bowling colleagues changed the script.
Pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Ben Laughlin chipped in with two wickets apiece while off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham took one as RCB's hopes for a play-offs berth went up in smoke. They ended the tournament with 12 points from 14 matches. They are now sixth in the standings.
With this victory, the Royals, who opted to bat in their final league game, climbed to fourth in the league table with 14 points from 14 matches. Their chances for a play-offs berth are, however, not in their hands as the remaining matches on Sunday will decide their fate.
RCB's run chase began on a bright note, with Parthiv hitting two sixes in the first over off Jofra Archer, but Virat Kohli’s (4) inconsistent run of form continued, as he failed to get the runs at the other end.
He was out in the third over off Gowtham. The India captain charged down the ground and swiped, only for the ball to spin in from a length and hit his stumps.
De Villiers came out and smashed Archer and Laughlin for three and two fours respectively in the next two overs, apparently in a bid to overhaul the target in 15.5 overs to better Mumbai Indians's net run-rate.
De Villiers and Parthiv stitched 55 runs for the second wicket to keep RCB in the hunt to attain the target. The South African kept one end intact for more then seven overs but wickets kept falling at the other end.
Moeen Ali (1), Mandeep Singh (3) and Colin de Grandhomme (2) fell cheaply in quick succession.
When de Villiers was out in the 12th over, Gopal's second wicket, with Heinrich Klaasen doing a good stumping job after the South African superstar misread the googly, the match had virtually gone out of RCB's grasp.
When RCB’s tail was exposed, Sarfaraz Khan (7) and Umesh Yadav (0), fell to consecutive deliveries off Laughlin in the 16th over.
Earlier, India pacer Umesh Yadav grabbed three wickets for 25 runs in a superb spell to restrict Rajasthan to 164 for 5.
Umesh got the scalps of key batsmen -- opener Archer (0), captain Ajinkya Rahane (33) and Sanju Samson (0), and though the Royals recovered, they failed to get the final flourish.
The absence of Englishmen Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, both of whom left the side for national duty, was felt during the must-win match.
But Tripathi, the other opener, rose to the occasion, scoring an unbeaten 80 off 58 balls, hitting five fours and a six. Rahane and Klassen (32 off 21 deliveries) also made useful contributions.
Tripathi's 99-run second-wicket partnership with Rahane resurrected the Royals innings after a slow start.
The home side was well-placed at 101 for 1 in the 12th over but the duel strikes by Umesh pegged them back.
Tripathi, who hasn’t been among the runs this year, came good when it mattered, getting his fifty off 38 balls.
Rahane missed out on a half century once again. He was declared out leg before, after the DRS review, while trying to work the ball to the leg side.