Rajasthan Royals 142-6 (Hodge 52no) beat
Otago Volts 139-7 (Neesham 32) by four wickets
Champions League Twenty20 Group A, Jaipur
Rajasthan Royals made it four wins out of four to finish on top of Group A of the Champions League Twenty20 with a perfect record courtesy of a four-wicket win over Otago Volts.
They also made it 12 home wins on the bounce and the defeat leaves Otago Volts hoping that the Perth Scorchers can do them a favour if they are to remain in the competition.
After recovering from an early collapse, they posted 139 for seven and but for 52 from Ajinkya Rahane and a brilliant unbeaten 52 in 23 balls from Brad Hodge, it might have been enough for them.
Hodge hit the winning runs to bring up his half-century from the first ball of the final over.
Although Rajasthan's opening bowlers failed to strike early, Shane Watson (1-24) and Rahul Shukla (3-23) did to reduce the Volts to 21 for four with the departures of Hamish Rutherford (5), Neil Broom (11), Brendon McCullum (0) and Derek de Boorder (0).
Ryan ten Doeschate (26), Jimmy Neesham (32), Nathan McCullum (28 not out) and Ian Butler (25) then ensured that the Volts bowlers would at least have something to bowl at but Kevon Cooper's brace of wickets aand one from Pravin Tambe left Rajasthan the favourites at the halfway stage.
The game continued to fluctuate once the run chase got underway. Rahul Dravid fell for 10 and Neesham inspired a collapse from 67 for one to 72 for four with the wickets of Sanju Samson for five and Watson for two with Neil Wagner chipping in to remove Stuart Binny for one.
Rahane and Hodge came together and put on 44 together, the former hitting 52 in 48 balls with seven fours before he was also dismissed by Neesham, who returned three for 22.
He fell at the end of the 17th over and the 18th proved pivotal. As Hodge took Butler apart, 10 runs in two balls at the end of it reduced Rajasthan's target to 10 to win in 12 balls.
Nevertheless, Otago were not going to go down without a fight. Wagner bowled James Faulkner (2) only to see Kevon Cooper swing hard to hit a couple of boundaries, leaving Hodge on strike and needing two to win from one over.
From there, it really was game over and Hodge needed no second invitation, driving Butler through the covers to bring up his 38th Twenty20 half-century and preserve both Rajasthan's proud winning record at home and their undefeated record in this competition.
In all, the Australian hit five fours and three sixes in just 23 balls.
It may not all be doom and gloom for the New Zealanders, however, as for them to miss out on the semi-finals, the Mumbai Indians would need to beat Perth by 49 runs or win with 34 balls remaining when they meet tomorrow (2nd October).
© Cricket World 2013