The Rajasthan Royals cemented their place in the top four of the Indian Premier League on Sunday with a superb five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore. Shane Watson’s side chased down an imposing 190 with six balls to spare thanks to weighty contributions from Karun Nair, Steve Smith and James Faulkner.
RCB looked to have set themselves up for victory, as 58 from AB de Villiers and 83 off just 38 balls from Yuvraj Singh took them to 190 off their 20 overs. However, 56 from Nair at the top of the Rajasthan innings and some tremendous hitting from Smith and Faulkner got the Royals over the line.
Faulkner produced 41 off just 17 balls, whilst his compatriot just outdid him with 48 from 21 as they both finished not out.
The Royals had been in third place in the table before the win and remain there following it. However, they are now just two points behind Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings at the top of the league.
Despite their impressive batting line-up of Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, de Villiers and Yuvraj, RCB have now lost three on the bounce, and their hopes of reaching the semi-finals are dwindling. They now sit in sixth place in the table with just six points from eight games.
Match 36 of the 2014 IPL sees Sunrisers Hyderabad take on Mumbai Indians on Monday afternoon. The Sunrisers can move into fourth place with a win, whilst Mumbai are desperate for points having won just two of their first eight contests.
|Kings XI Punjab||9||7||2||0||14|
|Chennai Super Kings||9||7||2||0||14|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||9||4||5||0||8|
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||9||3||6||0||6|
|Match No.||Home Team||Away Team||Date/Time|
|36||Sunrisers Hyderabad||Mumbai Indians||12/05/2014 3.30 p.m. BST|
|37||Chennai Super Kings||Rajasthan Royals||13/05/2014 11.30 a.m. BST|
|38||Royal Challengers Bangalore||Delhi Daredevils||13/05/2014 3.30 p.m. BST|
|39||Sunrisers Hyderabad||Kings XI Punjab||14/05/2014 11.30 a.m. BST|
|40||Kolkata Knight Riders||Mumbai Indians||14/05/2014 3.30 p.m. BST|
|41||Rajasthan Royals||Delhi Daredevils||15/05/2014 3.30 p.m. BST|
|42||Chennai Super Kings||Royal Challengers Bangalore||18/05/2014 11.30 a.m. BST|
Rarely has a question been easier to answer: Who has been the best batsman during the 2014 IPL? The only possible response is Glenn Maxwell. The Aussie leads the way in runs scored, number of sixes, highest individual score and highest average strike rate.
It has been a masterclass of T20 batting so far this season from the Kings XI Punjab star, a huge factor in his side sitting atop the IPL after 35 matches.
His chief competitor in the best batsman stakes is Dwayne Smith, who is also enjoying an excellent run of form. The Chennai Super Kings' hitter is second to Maxwell in runs scored (396) and directly behind the Aussie in sixes hit (27).
Maxwell still has a long way to go if he is to beat the IPL record for most runs in a season. This is currently jointly held by Chris Gayle and Michael Hussey, who each managed 733 runs in a single campaign. However, if he can continue to produce the spectacular form he has managed thus far and the Kings XI reach the final, then records could be shattered.
The bowling department is much less clear-cut than the batting, with a number of players shining with the ball. However, edging the debate at the moment is Bhuvneshwar Kumar of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Kumar may be level at the top of the wickets column with Mohit Sharma, but both his average and his economy rate are significantly better. In fact, he has the best average in the tournament at 11.53, whilst his economy rate is only behind Ravi Rampaul's at 5.49.
Sharma does deserve plenty of credit for his 15 wickets, though. As does Pravin Tambe, who at the age of 42 has burst onto the scene, claiming 14 wickets for Rajasthan thus far, including a hat-trick against KKR.
Also likely to have a significant say in matters is Lasith Malinga of the Mumbai Indians. The Sri Lankan had 13 wickets to his name prior to Match 36 on Monday, and as the IPL's all-time leading wicket-taker, it would be a huge surprise were he not to be right up there come the end of the season.