England cricketing great Kevin Pietersen has likened the controversial LIV Golf International Series to the formation of the Indian Premier League and hopes golf can soon settle its differences.

Pietersen was no stranger to controversy as a talented multi-format player, with his commitment to England questioned after the inaugural IPL, when lucrative T20 franchise cricket was born.

The South Africa-born batter captained England for just three Tests and 12 ODIs before his resignation and ultimately announced his international retirement in 2012 after scheduling disagreements – only to soon return.

Pietersen reportedly took issue with the strain put on players by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with their involvement in franchise cricket around the world limited.

The 42-year-old, who suggested English players were jealous of those offered lucrative IPL contracts, spent the latter stages of his career in various domestic leagues, appearing in tournaments across India, Australia, Pakistan and the Caribbean.

Having been bought for a whopping £1.1million by Royal Challengers Bangalore for the second edition of the then-controversial IPL in 2009, Pietersen remains aware of the potential for differences of opinion when it comes to new beginnings in sport.

LIV Golf has come under intense scrutiny, with vocal opponents criticising the Saudi-backed breakaway league, which offers lucrative prize funds that the PGA Tour is yet to compete with.

Ten major champions have defected to LIV Golf, leaving a cloud hanging over the final major of the year, The Open Championship, where the R&A has allowed breakaway players to feature despite their PGA Tour bans.

Pietersen, speaking after playing the Old Course, St Andrews ahead of The 150th Open on Monday, hopes the issues between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour will soon be resolved.

"I don't really have a take on it because it doesn't matter what I think," he said. 

"But having been part of the Indian Premier League and franchise cricket around the world, I think eventually – and I hope – that everything just merges and everybody lives as one happy family in the future.

"Sport is such a unifying thing. It unifies people, it unifies countries, unifies teams, and the ability to make it into something great is important.

"So, I just hope that for the greater good of the sport, things happen in the next few years. Clearly, there was going to be an outcry at the start by certain people in certain countries. 

"But let's hope that in two, three years' time, golf is celebrated for the great game that it is."

Pietersen has been offered the chance to play at St Andrews before the major starts and believes the short distance of the course may offer the injury-hampered Tiger Woods a chance of success.

"These guys are just so special. I mean, they are quite something when they perform to the calibre of performances that we see these kinds of freak shows," he added.

"[Xander] Schauffele comes in with great form, having won three times in the last three weeks or so. Louis [Oosthuizen] as well, he won, and then he got a runner-up.

"I think you come in here with experience and – you can relate it back to cricket – there are certain grounds in the world that you go to [where] you think, 'Okay, I have a real good chance here because I know this place. I love this place and I know how to bat here.'

"So I think, in terms of golf, there will be a few players that say, 'Yep, I know this place. I like this place'. 

"Maybe even Tiger, this is not a hard walk; we walked it yesterday, this is a very easy walk. For him to be able to turn up here, show that dedication and commitment months ago towards this tournament... you never know.

"We played next to him yesterday, and he played in front of us. There's a crazy sound that comes off the back when he hits, it's very special."

Hardik Pandya said victory for Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League final was a "legacy" moment for the rookie team.

The Titans scorched to a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals, getting home with 11 balls to spare as captain Pandya's man-of-the-match display paved the way.

He took 3-17 as the Royals were limited to 130-9, before weighing in with 34 runs as Gujarat cruised to their target and the IPL title at their home ground, the Narendra Modi Stadium.

Pandya was acquired after being released by Mumbai Indians, with whom he was four times a champion, and he said the Titans' success in their maiden season would be remembered for years to come.

"Obviously I count myself lucky. I've been in five finals, and I've won five times, so it's very exciting," Pandya said at the post-match presentation.

"This is going to be a very special one because we spoke about creating legacy and making sure that in generations to come everyone will remember this is the team that started this journey.

"To win the championship in the first year is very special."

Pandya bowled a steady line and got his rewards, before playing a reasonably patient innings, making his runs from 30 balls.

Known for his explosive batting, Pandya has reined that in at times this season and reaped the rewards, scoring an IPL career-high 487 runs across the campaign.

Pandya said of his bowling on Sunday: "For me it was all about sticking to the right length and asking the batters to play a good shot rather than me trying something and giving away a boundary."

When asked about his batting, and veering away from sky-high strike rates, Pandya said he was acting for the betterment of himself and his team.

"Any given day I'd take the trophy than me batting at 160 or 170 [strike rate]," he said. "For me, my team is the most important, whichever team I play for.

"I have always been that kind of individual. Outside noise does not bother me, and if I have to sacrifice and maybe have a worse season and my team still wins, I'll take that."

Rajasthan were looking for another Jos Buttler masterclass in Ahmedabad, but the English opener fell for 39 from 35 balls, Pandya taking the prized scalp.

Buttler finished the season as the competition's leading run-scorer, making four centuries and plundering 863 runs in all at a strike rate of 149.05 runs per 100 balls.

He achieved competition-highs in fours (83) and sixes (45), and was only sorry that the Royals fell at the final hurdle.

Buttler said: "I've exceeded all my expectations of this season apart from today, managing to take home the trophy we really wanted.

"I'm disappointed with that but want to say a big congratulations to Hardik and his team. I think they're very deserving champions.

"I think in good teams you have a lot of trust in everyone and I certainly have huge trust in everyone in our team. We all played fantastically well all season. We came up short today.

"I've lost plenty of finals in my career unfortunately, but today's been an amazing occasion and it's been a fantastic tournament."

Buttler spoke of the players' delight that crowds returned this season, having been kept away previously by the pandemic, and urged his younger colleagues "to soak it up and use the hurt from today to push you on further in the rest of your career".

"All good things must end," reasoned Hardik Pandya when he was released by Mumbai Indians last December.

Well Hardik, it seems the good times are back.

On Sunday, at their home Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Pandya captained Gujarat Titans to glory in the Indian Premier League final.

He took 3-17 with the ball and added 34 with the bat in an outstanding effort as the Titans beat the Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets with 11 balls to spare.

Pandya had struggled to stay fit and make an all-round contribution for Mumbai, whose four retentions ahead of the IPL auction were Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard.

How did that work out for them? Well, Mumbai finished bottom of the table, while Pandya picked up the trophy as skipper of newcomers Gujarat, whose maiden season could hardly have gone any better.

Mumbai's decision might – just might – have been a misjudgement.

We all make those. Just ask Yuzvendra Chahal.

What might have happened here if Chahal had clung to a glorious chance from the fourth delivery of the Titans' reply to the Royals under-par 130-9, rather than let the ball escape his flailing grasp?

Shubman Gill escaped that scare off Trent Boult's bowling and went on to carry his bat, cracking the match-winning six off Obed McCoy to finish unbeaten on 45, sharing in partnerships of 63 with Pandya and 47 with David Miller, whose rapid-fire 32 not out from 19 balls steered the Titans to the brink.

Rajasthan's total looked for all the world like a losing score, and it proved that way, but for a while the Royals had to take heart from the fact Mumbai posted 129-8 in the 2017 final and still won by one run against Rising Pune Supergiant.

Jos Buttler made a team-high 39 from 35 balls for the Royals in this game, and that took the Englishman to 863 runs for the season, the second-highest total by any batter in a single edition of the IPL after Virat Kohli's 973 runs in the 2016 season.

But the Royals were looking for more from their talisman, who removed his helmet and shielded his face as he left the field, knowing his team were looking to him to provide an onslaught late in the innings.

Who removed him? Pandya, of course, with Buttler looking to glance away a lively delivery to third man but instead feathering through to Wriddhiman Saha.

Gujarat celebrated with understandable gusto. Buttler hit four centuries in the IPL season, as many as all other players combined, carrying them this far. But he was gone after 12.1 overs, angry with himself, and nobody else stepped up in his absence.

The Titans began their chase slowly but kept wickets in hand.

A dishy delivery from leg-spinner Chahal eventually removed Pandya, edging to slip from a ball that turned extravagantly. Pandya was despondent, but the Titans skipper knew he could rely on others to complete the job.

Pandya finished the season with 487 runs, his highest total in an IPL season, but most importantly he now has a fifth title of his career in this competition, after four with Mumbai.

"For me, my team is the most important thing, whichever team I play for," he said at the end of the game.

The Titans were thanking their lucky stars that Mumbai decided Pandya was dispensable. On this, and the season's evidence, Pandya is anything but.

Gujarat Titans rounded off a glorious first Indian Premier League season by beating the Rajasthan Royals in Sunday's final to crown themselves champions.

The Royals had been hoping to enjoy a first IPL final success since 2008 but once again came unstuck against Gujarat, who produced a professional display in front of a home crowd in Ahmedabad.

Gujarat beat the Royals by 37 runs in April and by seven wickets just last week, with the latter result repeated on Sunday.

There was a sense the Royals were waiting for the in-form Jos Buttler to provide inspiration, but shortly after seeing Devdutt Padikkal (two) slice to Mohammed Shami at short third man, the England international came up short on a delivery from the excellent Hardik Pandya (3-17), going for 39.

The Royals looked in trouble at 79-4 in the 13th over and their position did not get much stronger.

With Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore (2-20) also impressing with the ball, no one else managed more than 15 runs after Buttler's dismissal, with their score of 130-9 the second-lowest first innings total ever in an IPL final.

The Titans were fortunate in the first over of their chase as Yuzvendra Chahal inexplicably dropped Shubman Gill, who went on to make the Royals pay.

While the wickets of Prasidh Krishna (five) and Matthew Wade (eight) tumbled, Gill proved to be the backbone of the Titans' tilt with an unbeaten 45, aided by Hardik (34) for a while.

Chahal made amends to a degree with a classic leg spinner's dismissal of Hardik in the 14th over, giving the Royals a glimmer of hope.

But David Miller's emphatic unbeaten 32 off just 19 balls sealed the Titans' success with 11 balls to spare.

Buttler or bust

Buttler's angry reaction to being dismissed said it all. After a brilliant season in which he plundered four centuries, it ultimately felt like his campaign ended with a bit of a whimper.

While his 39 was only bettered by Gill, the scalp of Buttler was clearly decisive given the lack of runs elsewhere for the Royals.

Catches win matches

It is impossible to say how things would have turned out if Chahal had held on to that catch on the fourth ball of the Titans' chase, but considering it let Gill – the top scorer in the match – off the hook, it is difficult to look at that moment as anything other than key.

You could have sympathy with Chahal had it been a tricky one, but it looked routine and he simply appeared to misjudge the flight, almost jumping over it.

England Test head coach Brendon McCullum cannot see any reason why Jos Buttler's destructive white-ball form could not carry over into five-day cricket.

Buttler blasted the Rajasthan Royals into their first Indian Premier League final for 14 years with a blistering unbeaten 106 off just 60 balls to secure a seven-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.

That took the 31-year-old to four centuries in this IPL campaign – as many as every other player combined – and five hundreds in total, just one shy of Chris Gayle's record of scoring six tons in the competition in his career.

Buttler will look to deliver again when the Royals face Gujarat Titans in the final in Ahmedabad on Sunday, and his form has led to questions whether he could make a return to England's Test side.

England dropped Buttler after the wicketkeeper-batsman averaged 15.3 during the most recent Ashes thrashing by Australia. He has scored only two centuries in 100 Test innings.

But the newly appointed McCullum – who faces home nation New Zealand in his first series in charge, starting on Thursday – can envisage Buttler taking his white-ball skills into red-ball cricket.

"Jos is one of those players you look at instantly and think: how could he be so dominant in one form of the game and not quite have found his feet, other than a few fleeting performances, in Test cricket?" McCullum said.

"There's no reason why, if you're good at T20, you can't bring those skills into Test cricket.

"There's certainly guys you look at and think there's a lot of talent that could improve the side given the right opportunity. It's just a matter of trying to identify how they're going to do that."

Moeen Ali, who played for Chennai Super Kings in this year's IPL, is another name linked with a return to England's Test side, along with Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid.

"I'm sure if Mo wanted to [play Test cricket] and was prepared to put the yards in to make it back into the side, then he'd challenge, no doubt," McCullum added.

"Livingstone, Moeen, Rashid. All these guys have played international cricket before, been successful in the other forms of the game, and you'd think they'd be able to transition across, but we'll see.

"I look at them and think there'll be a time where they may get an opportunity if they're invested enough.

"There's probably been a bit of hurt at times for those guys, too, because they've been in the team at times and then out of the team at others, and there hasn't been that persistence for them.

"I'm not sure you're going to play someone like Rashid every game, every year, anyway. He might not even be interested, so we might be talking about something we don't need to be.

"But my mentality is: if they're the best cricketers, why not have a conversation and see where you get to?

"If we're playing an attractive brand of cricket, we're successful and people are getting right behind what we're doing, then that might pique a bit of the interest of some of those guys. We'll build it first, then we'll see."

Livingstone has played 20 limited-overs internationals for England but is yet to feature for the Test side.

Questions remain over his interest in the longest format, with lucrative deals on offer in the IPL, and McCullum believes a discussion must be had with Livingstone over his commitments.

"A conversation needs to be had about what his appetite for Test cricket is. If he is keen on playing, then how does he see himself getting into the side?" McCullum said.

"Just because you're a good cricketer, it doesn't mean you automatically get selected. You've still got to earn the right to be able to do so."

Kumar Sangakkara cannot recall seeing anyone bat better than Rajasthan Royals run machine Jos Buttler in the Indian Premier League ahead of the final against Gujarat Titans.

Buttler blasted the Royals into their first final for 14 years with a scintillating unbeaten 106 off only 60 balls to secure a seven-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Qualifier 2.

The England wicketkeeper-batter hit six sixes and 10 fours in a masterclass at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday, taking his tally of centuries for the season to four.

Buttler is only one shy of Chris Gayle's record of scoring six IPL hundreds ahead of the final in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

The 31-year-old is the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 824 from 16 innings at an average of 58.86 and Royals director of cricket Sangakkara has never seen anything like it. 

He said: "It's hard to describe what he has done for us this season. I think he started off so well, had a little bit of a flutter at one point in the tournament, but he calmed himself down, had good conversations rather than just training.

"He accepted he's mortal, he's human and he can't have that high level of excellence every single day. And to understand how you kind of reach that level at every game in different stages.

"Some days you have to fight and look ugly, other days your rhythm is there. The reality is you can't fight that condition, but fight what's happening on the day.

"You have to settle into it and build an innings. He can accelerate at any point, has all the strokes and understands the game really well. I can't remember anyone batting this well in the history of the IPL."

Rajasthan have not reached a final since they won the inaugural IPL in 2008, when the late Shane Warne captained them to victory.

Gujarat topped the table in their first IPL season and beat the Royals by seven wickets in Qualifier 1 to move into the final.

David Miller struck a rapid 68 not out in that victory and the South Africa batter says he is reaping the rewards of the Titans putting their faith in him.

He said: "I feel like I am repeating myself. But one thing that changed this season, is that I am playing every game.

"The last four-five years in IPL… I had a bad season in 2016 and then haven't really felt backed at all. That’s the nature of the IPL. There are so many overseas players and only four can play.

"I had to go back and work on my game. Although I felt really good playing for the domestic teams in South Africa, I was looking to find that good nick. That's what happened this season."

The latest episode in Jos Buttler's outstanding 2022 IPL took Rajasthan Royals through to the final and a rematch with Gujarat Titans.

The Royals were beaten by the Titans in the first qualifier, forcing them to face Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday for a place in the season's showpiece.

Buttler ensured RCB were soundly beaten, smashing an unbeaten 106 off 60 balls to clinch a seven-wicket victory.

The Royals still had 11 balls to spare when Buttler's sixth six completed the job on 161-3.

None of the England star's team-mates had to pass 25 runs as he did all the heavy lifting in partnerships of 61 with Yashasvi Jaiswal, 52 with Sanju Samson, 35 with Devdutt Padikkal and 13 with Shimron Hetmyer in reply to RCB's 157-8.

A stunning Buttler catch had removed the dangerous Rajat Patidar (58) in the outstanding moment of the RCB innings, too, as his almost single-handed pursuit of the title continued.

Buttler blowing away the competition

This has long since been Buttler's best IPL campaign, and there remains a slim chance he also takes the tournament record. In pursuit of Virat Kohli's 973 runs in 2016, he moved on to 824 for this tournament with his fourth century. The rest of the players in this year's IPL have produced only four hundreds between them.

As well as the most runs in the 2022 IPL, Buttler leads the way for fours (78, 26 clear of second place) and sixes (45, 11 clear).

Top two tussle once again

This will be the Royals' first final since the inaugural IPL in 2008, when they took the title, but Rajasthan will have their work cut out against a Titans side who are in their debut season.

Gujarat finished two points ahead of the second-placed Royals in the points table, having won the match between the pair by 37 runs. The margin in the subsequent qualifier was seven wickets. Buttler top-scored for Rajasthan on both occasions, but their opponents have collectively shown they have the firepower to match him.

Rajat Patidar's remarkable unbeaten 112 kept Royal Challengers Bangalore's hopes of Indian Premier League glory alive as Lucknow Super Giants superb debut campaign came to an end.

Having seen fellow newcomers Gujarat Titans progress to the final, the Super Giants were looking to take a step towards joining them in Wednesday's eliminator.

Yet they were undone by an astonishing innings from Patidar, who propelled RCB to a 14-run win.

Patidar raced to a 28-ball half-century and a 49-ball hundred, his innings comprising of 12 fours and seven sixes and lifting RCB to 207-4.

Dinesh Karthik provided late support, hitting five fours and a six for his unbeaten 37, ensuring a hugely imposing target that proved to beyond the Super Giants.

Lucknow's chase was extremely admirable and saw them rack up 14 sixes at Eden Gardens in their 193-6.

Captain KL Rahul predictably led the charge with 79 - surpassing 600 runs for the season. 

However, when he scooped Josh Hazlewood to short fine leg and the same bowler had Krunal Pandya caught and bowled from the next delivery, the Super Giants had a mountain to climb heading into the final over on 184-6.

Harshal Patel made sure RCB's commanding position was not let slip as he delivered at the death to keep Evin Lewis and Dushmantha Chameera from engineering a late turnaround, sending them through to Qualifier 2 against Rajasthan Royals with a place in the final on the line.

Patidar an unlikely hero

Patidar was unsold at the 2022 auction, with RCB signing him at the lowest possible price as an injury replacement midway through the competition.

His acquisition now looks extremely astute after Patidar delivered the fastest IPL hundred since Mayank Agarwal's 45-ball century in September 2020.

Hazlewood topples Super Giants

Hazlewood had sent down three wides in the 19th over before finding his accuracy to claim the wickets of Rahul and Krunal.

His team-mate Harshal bowled 11 dot balls in his 1-25 and removed the dangerous Marcus Stoinis prior to Hazlewood's key salvo and RCB will need that duo to replicate their performances if they are to progress to the final.

A sensational innings of 68 from David Miller took Gujarat Titans to the IPL final after they beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in Tuesday's qualifier.

This was just the second meeting between the Titans and the Royals in the Indian Premier League, with Gujarat also winning by 37 runs last month.

Jos Buttler had blasted 89 to help the Royals set a target of 189 in Kolkata, but despite an early setback, the Titans built their reply well before fireworks from Miller finished it off.

Yashasvi Jaiswal fell for just three early in the Royals' innings, but Buttler and captain Sanju Samson put on a partnership of 68 to recover, with Samson hitting 47 off just 26 balls.

Buttler was unusually cautious until putting his foot down later in the innings, particularly once Devdutt Padikkal (28) had departed, with the England international hitting two late sixes to add to his 12 fours, before being run out in the final over.

The Titans lost Wriddhiman Saha for a second ball duck off the bowling of Trent Boult (1-38), but their batting was steady from there, with Shubman Gill and Matthew Wade both adding 35 each, before Hardik Pandya and Miller came to the crease.

Pandya played a captain's innings of 40 from 27 balls, but it was Miller who claimed the highlights, especially near the end of the chase as the nerves ratcheted up.

Needing 16 off the last over, Miller only took three balls to do the job as he smashed three sixes to send the Titans to the final in style.

The Royals have now played 10 games at Eden Gardens in the IPL, losing eight. Only at their home stadium in Jaipur (15) and at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai (nine) have they lost more.

They will now have to play the winner of Wednesday's eliminator between Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore to make it to the final.

Killer Miller

Although they had plenty of wickets in hand, it did look at one stage like Gujarat had given themselves a bit too much to do, until Miller stepped up.

The South African took just 38 balls to knock 68 in Kolkata, with three fours and five sixes.

Khan puts Royals in a spin

It was hardly a great day in the field for the Titans, except for Rashid Khan, who had an economy of 3.75 (15 runs), with none of the other three bowlers who bowled four overs having less than 10.75 (43 runs).

The Afghanistan spinner did not take any wickets, but if it was not for his stinginess with the ball in hand, the total would likely have been too much for even Miller's ability.

Punjab Kings closed their 2022 Indian Premier League season with a five-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mumbai.

Liam Livingstone led the way for the Kings with an impressive knock of 49 from 22 balls as they condemned Hyderabad to a sixth defeat in seven matches with four overs to spare.

Hyderabad won the toss and elected to bat first in the final match of the regular season, which pitted two teams that had failed to qualify for the play-offs.

Despite the early dismissal of Priyam Garg for just four, Abhishek Sharma (43) and Rahul Tripathi (20) moved Hyderabad to 61-1 before the latter was caught at short fine leg.

Aiden Markram (21), Washington Sundar (25) and Romario Shepherd (26 not out) added further contributions to the cause of Hyderabad, who set a target of 157-8.

Jonny Bairstow (23) made the early running for the Kings before he was bowled by Fazalhaq Farooqi.

Shahrukh Khan (19) and Mayank Agarwal (one) went in the space of two overs, but the 41-run partnership of Livingstone and Shikhar Dhawan put the Kings well in control.

Despite Dhawan going for 39 to Farooqi, Livingstone was not to be moved as he hit four boundaries during the 15th over (two sixes and two fours) against Shepherd to move his side to the brink of victory, which was secured when Prerak Mankad hit the rope with his very first ball.

Livingstone does the damage

Once again, Livingstone produced an inspired batting display for the Kings with his knock of 49, including five sixes, although he narrowly missed out on a fifth half-century of the season, which would have moved him level with David Warner (five).

Meanwhile, only Jos Buttler (37) bettered his tally of 34 sixes during the regular campaign.

Three wickets for Brar

While Livingstone led the way from the crease, Harpreet Brar shone with the ball.

The spinner took three important wickets to stop Hyderabad in their tracks; ending Sharma and Tripathi's 47-run partnership by dismissing the latter, and finishing with an impressive 3-26 from his four overs.

Delhi Capitals missed out on the Indian Premier League play-offs after Tim David capitalised on a reprieve in a five-wicket win for Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

The Capitals, requiring a victory at the Wankhede Stadium to make the last four, were limited to 159-7, with Jasprit Bumrah (3-25)  the pick of the bowlers.

Rovman Powell (43) and Rishabh Pant (39) fell short of half-centuries, but Delhi's total looked competitive as the Indians made a slow start in response.

Mumbai struggled to 27-1 at the end of the powerplay after Anrich Nortje dismissed captain Rohit Sharma, who managed only two off 13 deliveries.

Ishan Kishan offered more attacking intent, scoring 48 off 35 balls before falling to Kuldeep Yadav (1-33) in the 12th over and Dewald Brevis (37) followed to Shardul Thakur soon after with 65 runs still required.

Pant failed to review when David, on nought, edged behind and the Australian capitalised by blasting an 11-ball 34 before he was removed by Thakur (2-32) to leave Mumbai needing just 15 from 13 balls.

Ramandeep Singh (13 not out) saw Rohit's side over the line with five deliveries to spare, which meant Royal Challengers Bangalore took the final play-off spot and will face Lucknow Super Giants in the eliminator on Wednesday.

Brilliant Bumrah

Bumrah has been somewhat off the pace for the struggling Mumbai in this year's competition, barring his excellent 5-10 against Kolkata Knight Riders.

However, the India quick was in imperious form in the first innings of this game, removing Prithvi Shaw (24), Mitchell Marsh (nought) and Powell to take his tally to 15 in the 2022 IPL.

Pant's reviews

Pan dropped a simple chance when Brevis skied Kuldeep on 25. The skipper then ignored Thakur's advice and opted to not review when David edged behind.

The Capitals captain followed that up by reviewing a Nortje delivery to Tilak Varma that pitched well outside leg stump, capping a miserable day for the India wicketkeeper.

Ravichandran Ashwin blasted an unbeaten 40 as Rajasthan Royals secured a top-two finish in the Indian Premier League with a dramatic five-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings.

Moeen Ali breezed to a 19-ball half-century as the Super Kings raced to 75-1 at the end of the powerplay, but they did not capitalise on their early impetus in Mumbai on Friday.

Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2-26) and Obed McCoy (2-20) were the pick of the bowlers to peg back Chennai, with MS Dhoni (26) the only other batter to pass 20 in support of Ali (93) in the Super Kings' 150-6.

Jos Buttler fell for just two to Simarjeet Singh (1-18) in response, before Sanju Samson (15) followed to Mitchell Santner (1-15) and Ali bowled Devdutt Padikkal (3) to leave the Royals 76-3 in the 12th over.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal batted on as his partners fell, making 59 off 44 balls before being dismissed by Prashant Solanki, with Rajasthan requiring a further 47 to win from the last five overs.

Solanki soon added the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer (6) to his list of scalps, but Ashwin – promoted up the order – took charge of the chase to see his side over the line with two balls to spare.

Victory meant Rajasthan will have two chances in the playoffs to make the final on May 29. Lucknow Super Giants must settle for third place.

Ali efforts in vain

All eyes were on Buttler, who leads the run charts with 629 in this year's IPL, but it was England team-mate Ali who delivered a scintillating performance at the Brabourne Stadium.

The 34-year-old fell in the final over just seven short of a century after a tremendous 57-ball innings that included 13 fours and three sixes.

He then superbly posted figures of 1-21 with the ball from his four-over allocation – but his efforts ultimately proved in vain, with Ashwin's 40 from 23 proving decisive.

Chahal equals spin record

Chahal once again edged ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore's Wanindu Hasaranga in the battle to be the competition's top wicket-taker.

The Royals' leg-spinner picked up two wickets, while going at just 6.5 an over, and equalled Imran Tahir's tally of 26 (in 2019) for the most wickets by a spinner in a single IPL season.

Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni vowed to play for the Indian Premier League franchise next season amid speculation over his future.

Ravindra Jadeja was named Chennai skipper just before this year's tournament after the long-serving Dhoni opted to step down.

However, Dhoni was reinstated to lead the side after the Super Kings won just two of their opening eight games, in an attempt to offer Jadeja the chance to rediscover his form.

Speculation persisted whether Dhoni would retire following Chennai's final game of the season against Rajasthan Royals on Friday, but the India great has quashed those claims.

Asked whether he will play next year, Dhoni told Star Sports: "Definitely. It's a simple reason: it will be unfair to not play in Chennai and say thank you.

"Mumbai is one place, where as a team and as an individual, I have got a lot of love and affection. But it wouldn't be nice to the CSK fans.

"And also, hopefully, next year there will be an opportunity where the teams will be travelling so it will be a like thank you to all the different places where we will be playing games at different venues.

"Whether it will be my last year or not that's a big question, because you know we can't really predict something two years down the line, but definitely I'll be working hard to come back strong next year."

Virat Kohli returned to form with a crucial 73 as Royal Challengers Bangalore kept their Indian Premier League playoffs hopes alive with an eight-wicket victory over Gujarat Titans.

Titans opener Wriddhiman Saha scored a brisk 31 and David Miller added 34 in a 61-run partnership with captain Hardik Pandya, who finished unbeaten on 62 as Gujarat posted 168-5 at the Wankhede Stadium.

That total was boosted by a late flurry from Rashid Khan, who smashed 19 off just six balls, but the target seemed below par as RCB's openers raced out of the blocks.

Kohli and Faf du Plessis made a blistering start to the chase, the India star reaching his second half-century of the tournament off 33 deliveries with a six against Khan (2-32).

Khan then removed Du Plessis, caught by Pandya, for 44 with the score on 115-1 in the 15th over, before beating Glenn Maxwell for pace and clipping the stumps without the bails coming off with the next ball.

Maxwell capitalised on the reprieve by blasting the next Pandya over for 21 and, although Khan had Kohli stumped in the 17th over, the Australian's unbeaten 40 off just 18 balls saw RCB over the line with eight deliveries to spare.

RCB's playoff hopes now rely on Delhi Capitals losing to Mumbai Indians on Saturday, while IPL debutants Gujarat are already assured top spot after winning 10 of 14 games.

King Kohli

Before this game, Kohli averaged just 21.45 in the IPL this term – his lowest in the tournament since 2008, when he averaged 15 – and had been dismissed for under 10 runs six times, including three golden ducks.

The 33-year-old has acknowledged he may need a break to rejuvenate mentally and physically, but he was at his imperious best here, smashing eight fours and two sixes in his 54-ball 73.

Hasaranga keeps it tight

Wanindu Hasaranga, who claimed 1-25 from his four-over allocation, continues to dominate through the middle overs for RCB.

The Sri Lanka international dismissed Miller with a wonderful caught and bowled to pick up his 24th wicket of the tournament – the joint-most with Rajasthan Royals' Yuzvendra Chahal.

India star Virat Kohli might take a break to "rejuvenate mentally and physically", but assures he is in "the happiest phase of my life".

Kohli stepped down as India's Test captain in January following a series defeat to South Africa, having already relinquished his role as skipper of his country's white-ball teams.

The 33-year-old has struggled for form in 2022, averaging 21.45 in the ongoing Indian Premier League before Thursday's clash with Gujarat Titans – his lowest figure in the tournament since 2008.

Kohli, who also gave up the captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore last year, has not scored a century in any format since November 2019 when he managed 136 in Kolkata against Bangladesh.

While he averages 49.95 in the longest format, Kohli acknowledged it may be time for a rest.

"It's not a lot of people who mentioned it [taking a break]," Kohli told Star Sports. "There is one person precisely who has mentioned it which is Ravi [Shastri] and that's because he has seen from close quarters over the last six, seven years the reality of the situation that I have been in.

"The amount of cricket that I have played and the ups and downs and the toll that it takes on you to play three formats of the game plus the IPL for 10, 11 years non-stop with the seven years of captaincy in between.

"It is definitely a thing that one needs to consider because you don't want to do something which you are not a part of 100 per cent and I have always believed in that in my life.

"So to take a break and when to take a break is obviously something that I need to take a call on, but it is only a healthy decision for anyone to take some time off and just rejuvenate yourself mentally and physically.

"Not so much physically because physical fitness you keep up with through the course of playing cricket all the time, but it is a mental kind of reset that you need, and you want to be excited for what you are doing. You don't want to feel like you have been forcing yourself into any situation.

"It's only a thing of creating a balance and finding that balance which is right for you as an individual moving forward and I'll definitely discuss this with all the people involved – [India coach] Rahul [Dravid], the Indian team management, everyone to chart out whatever is best for myself and for the team definitely."

 

Kohli would not be the first high-profile international player to take a break from cricket to prioritise their mental and physical health, given new England Test captain Ben Stokes did so last year.

However, Kohli insists he is still enjoying his game as he looks to secure a playoff spot in the IPL with Bangalore.

"Right now, there is nothing that you can point out saying there is a problem here," Kohli said.

"I know where my game stands and you cannot come this far in your international career without having the ability to counter the situations and counter conditions and counter different kinds of bowling.

"So this phase for me is the easier phase to process but I don't want to put this behind me. I want to learn from it and understand that what are the core values that I have as a sports person and as a human being.

"As long as I'm ticking those boxes, I know these are ups and downs and when I come out of this phase I know how consistent I can be. I know how motivated I will be once the scores start coming.

"My experiences are sacred to me – whatever I have experienced in this phase or in the past as well. 

"So I am experiencing now that I value myself and I care for my own well-being way more than I would have in the past. And actually, contrary to a lot of belief or a lot of perceptions as I mentioned on the outside, I'm actually in the happiest phase of my life."

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