Royal Challengers Bangalore 207 for 4 (Patidar 112*, Karthik 37*) beat Lucknow Super Giants 193 for 6 (Rahul 79, Hooda 45, Hazlewood 3-43) by 14 runs
Royal Challengers Bangalore have found one more reason to believe in destiny. Rajat Patidar, a Royal Challengers regular who was let go this year, came in mid-season as cover for an injury to Luvnith Sisodia and scored a sensational unbeaten 112 off 54 to propel the team into the second Qualifier. There was an element of fate to Patidar's innings: he had already done a grand job but since he was dropped in the 16th over, he scored 40 off 14 balls. His partner in carnage, Dinesh Karthik, too survived a close lbw call and a dropped catch on two before putting together 92 in 6.5 overs.
Lucknow Super Giants will rue those dropped catches because they came close in the end. Almost throughout the innings their worm stayed ahead of Royal Challengers', but 84 in the last five overs was too tough an act to follow. The captain KL Rahul's innings will divide opinion: he stayed conservative till the ask reached 99 off seven overs, and his jump from 48 off 42 to 79 off 58 proved to be not enough.
Amid all the carnage, Super Giants' Mohsin Khan and Royal Challengers' Harshal Patel returned identical and remarkable figures of 4-0-25-1.
Mohsin with the perfect start
The uncapped find of the season, Mohsin, started with a superb over. He drew respect out of Virat Kohli before getting Faf du Plessis for a golden duck with one that shaped in in the air and then seamed away to take the edge. As has been the template, Royal Challengers set up a base to try to go big in the last two overs of the powerplay, but were 24 for 1 in four.
Patidar announces himself
With Kohli expected to set himself up for a long innings, Patidar took all the risks in the last two overs of the powerplay. Avesh Khan threw hard lengths at him in the fifth over, but he managed to put two of those way for fours. But it was in the sixth over that Patidar really opened up. Krunal Pandya had already bowled one over without a boundary, but Patidar was not going to let the last over of the powerplay go. After he went over mid-on twice, Pandya sent the man back only for Patidar to go over the now-in mid-off. He was now toying with the field as he followed it up with a four along the ground through the covers. Royal Challengers were 52 for 1 in six.
The spin slowdown
Ravi Bishnoi then slowed things down, bringing about a surprise early risk from Kohli, who toe-ended an upper-cut to third man for a run-a-ball 25. At 70 for 1 in 8.3 overs, it appeared Royal Challengers were not happy with where they were going because Glenn Maxwell came out and started hitting out from ball one. Pandya was at the receiving end of one shot too many to make it 86 for 3 in the 11th over.
At the other end, Patidar found his second kick, but Bishnoi came back to get Mahipal Lomror, which brought Karthik out with two overs of spin still left. It nearly worked out for Super Giants: after a legbreak that beat Karthik on the outside edge, a Bishnoi wrong'un was denied only by an umpire's call. In the next over, Rahul dropped a tough chance from Karthik, running back from mid-off. And then in the 16th over, a Bishnoi wrong'un bounced low, denying Patidar the elevation, but Hooda dropped a much easier chance at deep midwicket, also letting it go for four.
That reprieve freed Patidar for a third kick, the most devastating one. He is not of an imposing build nor is he a 360-degree batter, but everything he tried now began to come off. Back over Bisnoi's head, over long-on, through the covers, he peppered the boundaries in a 27-run 16th over. In the 18th he brought up his hundred with a pulled six off Mohsin. In the 19th, he took Chameera apart.
At the other end, the fear of Karthik produced many a wide to go with his 23-ball 37. The plan was to bowl wide of his reach, but Karthik kept catching up, and also ruthlessly punished the bluff balls.
A similar start for LSG
Mohammed Siraj, brought back for the big match, came up with the big wicket in the first over as Quinton de Kock didn't get the bounce he needed to clear mid-on. And with that went any hope of a flying start. Rahul and Manan Vohra set themselves up for the final two overs of the powerplay. Even though Josh Hazlewood got Vohra out, Rahul hit two sixes and a four off Siraj in the sixth over to make it 62 runs off the powerplay.
The spin slowdown part 2
In the middle overs it was almost as if there was cease fire at one end. Deepak Hooda was left with all the heavy lifting to do as Rahul took no risks against spin. With two left-hand batters in the shed, Royal Challengers kept Glenn Maxwell back and bowled more of Shahbaz Ahmed. Hooda managed to hit four sixes, but he lost his timing after a quick start.
Wanindu Hasaranga and Harshal were mainly responsible for Hooda getting into a rut. Rahul still looked calm and intent on taking it deep. It wasn't until it became 99 required off the last seven that Rahul took a risk.
The LSG charge
Starting with the 14th over, Super Giants began to attack from both ends. Rahul hit two sixes off Hazlewood, Hooda put Hasaranga into the stands twice, but again the lack of bounce did it for Hooda. Marcus Stoinis had no choice but to go for it the moment he walked out, and he put Hasaranga into the stands almost immediately. For two more overs, Super Giants managed to satay abreast with the asking rate, bringing it down to 41 off the last three. They were still ahead of where Royal Challengers were at that stage.
Harshal seals it
Harshal, 2-0-8-0, at this point started off with two wides that went for six runs, making it two runs a ball needed. He ditched the round-the-wicket plan and went back to his original ploy of bowling short and slow into the pitch. Eventually he frustrated Stoinis into trying to create all the power and had him caught at deep cover. He left Super Giants with 33 to get off the last two overs. This was Rahul's last chance to go after Hazlewood to make it manageable in the final over, but he started off with a leave to a wide yorker. When he ramped Hazlewood straight to short fine leg, it was all over.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo