Tuskers Kerala cannot recover from Wayne Parnell dismissing three of the top four, with his Pune side chasing 149 down quite comfortably.
No change in fortune for Kochi as Parnell inspires Pune to second win
On the eve of Brazil's 2002 World Cup against Turkey, Ronaldo had turned up at the ground, sporting a new hairstyle that received some unflattering reviews. He changed it soon after when his two-year-old son failed to recognise him.
S Sreesanth has made a similar attempt. During the World Cup, the flashy paceman resembled a John McEnroe on a bad-hair day. He turned up for Kochi Tusker Kerala's games against Pune Warriors with a smart crop, but with a few strands dyed in a shade of orange.
It was obviously an attempt to get the team colour, but the experiment seemed to have failed. And unlike Ronaldo, the change did not bring about any improvement in Sreesanth's fortunes, or his team's. He went wicketless from three overs, while the Tuskers lost by four wickets in a tense finish.
The Warriors would have had an easier time in the run-chase if not for a battling knock from Ravindra Jadeja, the man who missed season three after being banned following a contractual dispute. The Tuskers had made a depressing start with Brendon McCullum, VVS Laxman and Mahela Jayawardene back in the dugout inside the first 17 balls of the innings.
McCullum was dismissed off the first ball of the match, chasing a wide one from Alfonso Thomas. Laxman also failed to open his account, playing a Wayne Parnell delivery on to his stumps and Jayawardene got an inside edge to the keeper off the same bowler.
Parnell had a third when Parthiv Patel fell chasing a widish delivery and the Kochi Tuskers were four down for 24 in 4.5 overs. Jadeja's aggressive, counter-attacking innings, however, turned things around for the Kerala team.
The former Rajasthan Royal smashed 47 from 33 balls and added 88 in 10.3 overs with Brad Hodge (39). Those two wickets fell within five balls of each other and it hurt the Tuskers in the closing overs. An 18-ball cameo from Raiphi Gomez (26), however, allowed the visitors to get 148 for eight on the board.
"We started pretty well, but I thought we lost our way a little bit in the middle," said Robin Uthappa, the Warriors keeper. "We pulled it back eventually, but in the last over we gave away too many runs .
"We have been working quiet hard as a unit over the last month or so and it's good to see us backing it up with performances on the field."
Uthappa, one of the most expensive players in the January auction, made a valuable contribution in the run-chase: a 13-ball 31 before gifting Muttiah Muralitharan a wicket after a senseless reverse-sweep attempt.
Mohnish Mishra (37 not out) eventually finished the game with a four and two sixes in the penultimate over, bowled by Muralitharan.
"Mohnish played really well," said Uthappa. "He played out of his socks. I told him to make sure he plays till the last two-three overs. From there, the bowlers are under more pressure than the batsmen. So the batsman's got the upper-hand then."
It was the second win for Pune in as many games and Parnell, who played a big part in it with three wickets, said: "It's really nice to get off to a winning start. We have been preparing really well and putting practice into play is obviously nice for us."
* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi