Excitement, thrill and at the end of it, euphoria took centre stage when Rajasthan Royals’ Brad Hodge whacked Darren Sammy’s second ball of the last over for a six. The result; Rajasthan Royals booked a place in the Champions League T20 and more importantly got a step closer to the final of the IPL. (Also Read: RR vs SRH - Eliminator Report & Stats: IPL 2013)
The man of the moment, the man at the centre of all the action to take RR to a thrilling victory, was Brad Hodge, a T20 veteran of sorts with 5548 runs in the shortest format of the game; the most by any batsman. It was a night when Hodge’s year’s of experience in this format was put to test and how well the Australian succeeded.
“It was a close contest and that is exactly where you need your experience to get a team over the line,” said Hodge, visibly excited with a broad smile on his face as he was up for a chat with IPLT20.com.
“This is the most thrilling game I have ever played in the IPL. I have played for KKR and the Kochi Tuskers Kerala in the past editions. This is the first time with RR and I am delighted to win the game for the team. “We are just a step away from the all important final,” exclaimed the Australian. When RR won the game, there was emotions galore in the dug-out. There was fist pumping in the air by the players and the support stuff even as the players ran to the centre of the pitch to give their hero of the day a pat on the back for keeping his cool and holding his nerve in such a tight contest.
Not surprisingly, RR captain Rahul Dravid was a happy man as he gave Hodge a tight hug in appreciation. “Rahul was delighted when I walked back to the dug-out. It has been an emotional week for us, an emotional week at the bench and it is a really good result for Rajasthan Royals and especially for Rahul Dravid,” expressed Hodge. The win did not come easy for the Royals. They lost half their side under sixty runs chasing 133 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad who have fancied themselves, defending low totals in the tournament. Hodge accepted that his side was under pressure when they lost the plot midway.
“The wicket was a fraction slow that suited the type of cricket SRH have been playing through the tournament. We wanted to try and be aggressive early on in the innings. We got a decent start but faltered mid-way. It did not go according to the script, but I am glad we got there in the end.”
The Royals lost wickets at regular intervals and also the ploy of throwing the youngsters to difficult situations almost backfired with the likes of Dishant Yagnik, Sanju Viswanad and Stuart Binny all going back without any notable contributions. Hodge was just happy they could get over the line at the end of it.
“We were slightly under pressure while chasing the stiff target. We found ourselves in a bit of a hole and needed a few shots to come off well to get the asking rate down. Thankfully, we got a couple of shots in the stands which helped us get over the line.”
Rajasthan Royals now face Mumbai Indians in their next fixture and a win would get them one step closer to the final. “Everyone wants to play in the final and it is satisfying to see that you are just a step away from the final. We have had a great season this year and have been one of the top teams in the competition and it was only fitting that we got a chance to play and get closer to grabbing the trophy,” Hodge said.