Jaipur: Rahul Shukla rocked the rival top-order with three wickets in an over before Brad Hodge hit a blistering fifty as Rajasthan Royals snapped Otago Volts`s 15-match winning streak with a four-wicket win in Champion League Twenty20, here on Tuesday.
The hosts restricted the Kiwis to a modest 139 for seven following a fiery spell of fast bowling by Shukla and then overhauled the target with five balls to spare.
Shukla, who was included in place of Vikramjeet Malik, was called on to bowl fourth over of the innings and he removed Hamish Rutherford (11) with his first ball, skipper McCullum (0) with third and Derrek de Boorder (0) on fifth.
The saving grace of the Otago innings was a 53-run stand for the fifth wicket between James Neesham (32) and Ryan ten Doeschate (26) which gave a little respectability to visitors.
Down the order Nathan McCullum (28) and Ian Butler (25) added some useful runs.
Royals` 12th victory on the trot at home ensured that Royals finished atop on Group A with 16 points and will now play their semifinal at home.
Royals wins also keeps Mumbai Indians in hunt for the semifinals. Mumbai are third in the table with six points behind Volts (10). Mumbai now need to win tomorrow`s match against Perth Scorchers and also have a better Net-Run-Rate.
The hosts were struggling at 72 for four after a mid-innings collapse but Hodge smashed his way to an unbeaten 52 off 23 balls to script the win.
Hodge hit three sixes and five fours and completed his half-century and team`s win with a cover drive off Ian Butler.
Before Hodge arrived on the scene, opener Ajinkya Rahane hit a measured 52 off 48 balls to stabilise the innings. Hodge and Rahane formed a 44-run stand for fifth wicket to repair the damage.
After Rahane`s departure, the veteran Australian single handedly took the side to victory in an exciting finish.
The hosts raced to 43 after batting powerplay overs as Rahane hit five elegant drives on the off side. Rahane played his shots comfortably against both pacers and spinners.
Dravid (10) though struggled with his timing and his 17-ball troublesome stay finally ended when he was caught by Nathan off spinner Nick Beard.
James Neesham (3/22) raised the hopes of Volts as Sanju Samson (5), Shane Watson (2) and Stuart Binny (1) fell in quick succession.
But Rahane played brilliantly to help Royals get close to target before being Neesham.
Earlier, generating good pace and bowling a good line, Shukla finished with three for 23 but was instrumental in restricting the visitors to a manageable total.
For the hosts, apart from Shukla, Kevon Cooper (2/33) took two wickets while Pravin Tambe (1/17) and Shane Watson (1/24) scalped one batsman each.
Otago Volts, high on confidence with a 15-match winning spree, made a sedate start through Neil Broom (11) and Hashim Rutherford (5) who added 16 runs in three overs.
Shukla, who was included in place of Vikramjeet Malik, was called on to bowl fourth over of the innings. The move turned out to be a master stroke as in his first over as he rattled rival camp with three quick wickets.
Shane Watson further added to the woes of Otago by scalping Broom, who had hit a fine ton against Lions, to reduce the visitors to 21 for in fifth over.
Neesham (32) and ten Doeschate steadied the innings with a partnership of 53 runs off 47 balls for the fifth wicket.
Left-handed Neesham, who had hit a brisk 25 ball 52 in his previous innings against Perth Scorchers, holed out to Watson at long on off Cooper.
Nathan and Butler then added 39 quick runs for the side.