Rajat Patidar was the unlikely hero as he hammered a magnificent hundred on Wednesday to help Royal Challengers Bangalore edge out Lucknow Super Giants by 14 runs and move within one win of the Indian Premier League final.
Patidar, who was only drafted into the side midway through the tournament as an injury replacement, smashed 112 not out off 54 deliveries in the eliminator match.
Faf du Plessis’ Bangalore will next face Rajasthan Royals in Friday’s second qualifier in Ahmedabad, with the winners to take on Gujarat Titans for the title on Sunday at the same venue.
“The wicket was pretty good and I played some good shots,” said Patidar. “I never feel any pressure as I think I have the ability to make up for the dots.”
RCB had lost at this stage in each of the past two seasons and are still to lift the IPL trophy, having also finished runners-up three times.
The 28-year-old Patidar struck 12 fours and seven sixes to lead Bangalore to a total of 207 for four against Lucknow, one of two new franchises in this year’s tournament alongside Gujarat.
Lucknow skipper KL Rahul made 79 but was dismissed by Josh Hazlewood in the penultimate over, with 28 still needed, as they finished on 193-6.