JAIPUR – Australia’s Steve Smith took a stunning catch to dismiss international compatriot David Warner in the Indian Premier League and help his side Rajasthan Royals stay in the race for the play-offs.
Warner, ruling IPL’s batting chart with 611 runs for Sunrisers Hyderabad, mistimed a hit over mid-off as Smith ran back and dived full length to his right to hold on to the ball.
The effort from Smith off paceman Oshane Thomas cut short Warner’s innings on 37 as Hyderabad managed 160-8, a total Rajasthan chased down with five balls to spare in Jaipur.
“Just landed on the elbow. Hopefully it’s okay. I’ll know more when I take the tape off,” Smith, who had his elbow operated in January, said after his team’s seven-wicket win.
“But it was a good end to our home season,” added Smith, who leaves the IPL after his team’s next game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday to be with Australia ahead of the World Cup.
Both Smith and Warner returned to the Twenty20 tournament after missing the previous edition over a ball-tampering scandal. The disgraced duo served a one-year ban from club and international cricket that ended last month.
Smith took over the Rajasthan captaincy from Ajinkya Rahane midway into the tournament despite the Australian being barred from leading the national team.
The move proved successful for the 2008 champions whose sudden resurgence after a bad start this season finds them in sixth place and still fighting to be in the final four.
“We’re playing together as a group and winning those key moments. At the start we weren’t doing it,” said Smith, who also scored 22 with the bat.
“We’ve had a lot of close games and fortunately in the last few we’ve been able to get over the line. For us it’s just about going on winning and then we’ll see what happens.”
Wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson with his unbeaten 48 and paceman Jaydev Unadkat, who returned bowling figures of 2-26, played pivotal roles in their team’s win.
Rajasthan’s victory also helped table-toppers Chennai Super Kings become the first team to qualify for the play-offs with 16 points in 12 games.
Defending champions Chennai led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost their previous match to Mumbai Indians but have registered eight wins.
The world’s most popular T20 tournament ends on May 12 and many of the league’s foreign stars are returning home to prepare for the 50-over showpiece event starting May 30.AFP