Kochi Tuskers Kerala pulled off a closely fought six-run victory over table-topping Kolkata Knight Riders in their Indian Premier League encounter last night.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala claim another scalp in the Indian Premier League
Kochi all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who scored a quick-fire 29, completed his memorable outing by picking up two wickets as Kolkata, chasing a victory target of 133, were restricted to 126 for nine.
In a close game in which the pendulum swung one way then the other, the Kochi bowlers held their nerve to defend their moderate total as a battling 46 from Manoj Tiwary proved in vain.
Earlier, batting first after losing the toss, Mahela Jayawardene (23) and Brendon McCullum (25) gave Kochi a promising start with a stand of 49 off seven overs.
But three quick wickets allowed Kolkata to claw back as Yusuf Pathan used the sluggish pitch to his advantage, removing Jayawardene, Parthiv Patel and Brad Hodge.
At 65 for four after 12 overs, the prospect of Kochi putting up a competitive total depended on Jadeja, who hit a six in each of the next three overs to bring up the hundred by the 15th over.
Shakib Al Hasan bowled Kedar Jadhav (12) to limit his sixth-wicket stand with Jadeja to 35, but a bigger blow was in store for Kochi in the next over when Brett Lee sent back the explosive Jadeja, who made 29 off 18 balls.
Raiphi Gomez and Vinay Kumar added 22, but some tight bowling towards the end ensured Kochi could only get as far as 132 in their 20 overs.
Kochi fought back nicely with three quick wickets leaving the visitors needing 81 off 11 overs after the interval.
Tiwary and Eoin Morgan added 36 at a healthy rate, but a direct throw from Jayawardene at extra cover caught the England batsman (10) short of his crease at the non-striker's end.
With 56 required for victory in the remaining six overs, Tiwary hit back-to-back boundaries off RP Singh to ease the pressure but the paceman came back strongly to clean up Shakib.
Pathan, batting with a runner after injuring his knee, hit a six off Ramesh Powar but top-edged the next ball to Muttiah Muralitharan, leaving Tiwary to chase the elusive target.
But Jadeja turned the screw by having Tiwary (46 off 51 balls) stumped in the next over as new pair Brett Lee and Rajat Bhatia were left to score at 10 per over in the remaining three overs.
With Lee holing out to long-on off Muralitharan, Kochi needed to score 26 off 15 with the ninth-wicket pair in the middle. Bhatia and Iqbal Abdulla scored 12 off Singh's penultimate over, but Vinay Kumar bowled a terrific final over giving away just seven runs.
After the match, Jayawardene said: "I thought it was going to be a scrappy game, 130 was a competitive score.
"We missed out on about 15 runs, we batted really well. The bowlers performed under pressure, the fielding was outstanding.
"Our quicks had the variation, knew I could use them at the end of the game. We took early wickets, guys like [Gautam] Gambhir and [Jacques] Kallis can hurt you. I had quality at the end as well."
Knight Riders' captain Gautam Gambhir also praised the Kochi bowlers.
He said: "We should have chased that target easily. The wicket was playing better than it did in the last game. Credit to Kochi. The way their bowlers bowled. We were disappointing."