Rajasthan Royals 189 for 6 (Padikkal 51, Jaiswal 50, Hetmyer 46, Rabada 2-40) beat Punjab Kings 187 for 5 (Curran 49*, Jitesh 44, Saini 3-40) by four wickets
It got quite nervy in the end, but Rajasthan Royals finished on the right side of the result in Dharamsala, beating and eliminating Punjab Kings in a four-wicket win while also keeping their outside playoff chance alive.
Kings had a realistic chance of victory after Jitesh Sharma, Sam Curran and Shahrukh Khan overcame a top-order batting collapse to take them to 187. They came into the game needing a mammoth win to boost their net run rate, and even though they knew that wouldn't happen midway through the chase, they fought till the very end to make Royals squirm.
Royals now set their eyes on Sunday's action. To qualify, they need Mumbai Indians to lose to Sunrisers Hyderabad and also for Royal Challengers Bangalore to lose by at least six runs to Gujarat Titans in the league stage's last fixture.
Kings' disappointing start
Shikhar Dhawan said at the toss that the Kings didn't mind batting first in Dharamsala, but their top order was blown away early, leaving them reeling at 50 for 4 in 6.3 overs.
It began with Trent Boult picking his seventh first-over wicket with a caught-and-bowled of Prabhsimran Singh, followed by Atharva Taide falling victim to a Navdeep Saini short ball.
Adam Zampa then closed out the powerplay with the wicket of Dhawan lbw sweeping and Saini, added a second when he rattled Liam Livingstone's stumps with the batter swinging wildly across the line.
That the Kings batters kept going for their shots despite losing wickets was understandable. For them to have any outside chance of qualifying for the playoffs, they had to go hard in the powerplay in pursuit of a big total. On this occasion, though, they didn't succeed.
A middle-order resurrection
Then came the rebuild, kickstarted by Jitesh Sharma and Sam Curran. Together, they hit only two fours and two sixes by the time they put up a fifty-run stand. At the time, their partnership run rate of 7.69 did not do justice to the good batting conditions, but they were forced to play in that manner because of Zampa and Yuzvendra Chahal's tidy spells.
All that appeared to change, though, as Jitesh tore into the 14th over bowled by Saini. Jitesh went 4, 6, 4 at the start but it proved to be anti-climactic with the batter out on 44 next ball. Nonetheless, their partnership of 64 in 7.2 overs gave Kings hope of a respectable total.
Chahal, Boult leak runs
With Kings on 141 after 18 overs, Chahal came to bowl. But the purple-cap holder's over proved to be the innings' most expensive as both Shahrukh and Curran walloped him all over for 28 runs.
Then the Kings duo rode on the back of some streaky shots to add 18 more in Boult's final over. Together, they added 46 in the last 12 balls, Kings scored 70 in their last five overs, and Royals were left chasing a tricky 188.
Padikkal clicks at No. 3
After Buttler registered his third duck in a row, Padikkal and Jaiswal collected boundaries through the point region with the Kings bowlers trying to bowl wide. They didn't let Arshdeep Singh, Curran or Kagiso Rabada settle and together added 73 runs n 8.1 overs.
While Padikkal dominated, Jaiswal looked to build his innings while the required run rate also remained in check. However, Padikkal and Samson fell in quick succession and the Royals slid from 85 for 1 to 90 for 3.
Hetmyer, Parag, Jurel seal the deal
Hetmyer was quick off the blocks with two sixes, allowing Jaiswal to continue playing his role. Even though Jaiswal fell soon after getting to fifty, Hetmyer carried on to blitz 46 off 28 and Riyan Parag also chipped in with two sixes off Rabada to play a cameo of 20 off 12.
However neither could bring the team home, falling late in the game. The responsibility of that fell to Jurel, who held his nerve in Boult's company to seal the match with a straight six off Rahul Chahar in the final over.