Shane Watson and his team came into Friday’s game in Mohali knowing a win over their hosts would see them clinch a top-four finish with a match to spare.
As it is, the Royals sit on 14 points from 13 matches, with both Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad two points behind them heading into the last round of games.
The Royals enjoy a superior net run-rate over both sides, but will be cursing a missed opportunity against a Kings’ XI outfit with little to play for.
Having already booked their play-off spot alongside Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, George Bailey’s men are now assured of first place, and will have two chances to reach the final when the play-offs commence.
Shaun Marsh top-scored for the hosts with 40 out of their total of 179-4, with all six batsmen to get to the crease reaching double figures.
Manan Vohra looked in good touch until lazily failing to run his bat in while attempting a second, and was run out for 25 by a direct hit from Stuart Binny.
Wrridiham Saha added a breezy 27 from 20 balls before holing out on the boundary to Rahul Tewatia, Rajasthan’s best bowler with figures of 1-24 from four overs.
That brought David Miller and Bailey to the crease, and the pair put on 60 in 5.2 overs, Miller making 29 from 20 balls while his captain struck 26 from 18 to provide some late momentum.
In reply, the Royals got off to a solid start, reaching 56-1 until Rishi Dhawan (2-25) bowled both Ajinkya Rahane (23) and Watson with successive deliveries to set the visitors on the back foot.
From that point they lost wickets at regular intervals, and fell to 103-6 at the end of 16 overs when Tewatia was caught off the bowling of Akshar Patel (3-24) for 16.
That brought veteran Brad Hodge and James Faulkner together, Hodge smashing 22 off the next over from Beuran Hendricks (0-57) to leave the Royals in with a slender chance of victory.
Those hopes were dashed when Hodge fell for 31 in the next over to Patel, who picked up another scalp off the last ball of the same over, dismissing Kevon Cooper for two thanks to a spectacular diving catch from Marsh.
There were some late fireworks from Faulkner, who blitzed four sixes in thrashing an unbeaten 35 from just 13 balls, but it was never likely to prove enough for the Royals, who must now beat Mumbai to ensure their place in the end-of-season reckoning.
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