After guiding Rajasthan Royals out of a hole and a step closer to the IPL 2013 final, batsman Brad Hodge has expressed much satisfaction at the result achieved in the Eliminator that followed an "emotional week". His experience, Hodge said, came in handy in what was a tense situation.
"It was a close contest and that is exactly where you need your experience to get a team over the line," Hodge told the IPL site. "This is the most thrilling game I have ever played in the IPL. I have played for Kolkata Knight Riders and Kochi Tuskers Kerala in the past editions. This is the first time with Rajasthan Royals and I am delighted to win the game for the team.
"Rahul [Dravid] was delighted when I walked back to the dugout. It has been an emotional week for us, and it is a really good result for Rajasthan Royals and especially for Rahul."
Chasing 133, Royals had been reduced to 57 for 5 and needed 76 off 60 when No. 7 Hodge put together a 45-run stand with Sanju Samson - in which 18-year-old Samson contributed 9 - at close to eight runs an over. Once Samson was out, Hodge added 33 more with James Faulkner at over nine an over to take the team home with four wickets and four balls to spare. Hodge finished unbeaten on 54 off 29, hitting Darren Sammy for consecutive sixes to close out the game.
"The wicket was a fraction slow and that suited the type of cricket Sunrisers 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," Hodge said. "It did not go according to script.
"We were slightly under pressure while chasing the stiff [asking rate towards the end]. 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 that helped us get over the line."
Royals will now play Mumbai Indians in the second qualifier on Friday. That Royals are on the threshold of the final is a just reflection of the way they have played this season, Hodge said: "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 closer to grabbing the trophy."