Kochi stifle Kolkata in hard-fought win
Kochi Tuskers Kerala 132 for 7 (Jadeja 29, Yusuf 3-20, Shakib 3-28) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 126 for 9 (M Tiwary 46, RP Singh 2-25, Jadeja 2-25) by six runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kochi Tuskers Kerala won a battle of attrition against Kolkata Knight Riders on a slow Eden Gardens pitch to move to the third position in the points table. The wicket did not play as low as it did in Kolkata's win against Rajasthan Royals, but it was just as slow, making it difficult for batsmen, and a delight for the spinners.
After Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan had taken six wickets for 48 runs between them to restrict Kochi to 132, Kolkata's powerful batting line-up would have fancied the modest chase. But Kochi's own army of spinners - Muttiah Muralitharan, Ramesh Powar and Ravindra Jadeja - stifled the runs though they did not get as many wickets, and ensured the pressure got to the Kolkata batsmen, who fell six runs short.
As it transpired, the performance against the new-ball bowlers was the difference between the two sides. Kolkata's seamers conceded 26 for 0 in their first three overs, while Kochi's fast bowlers dismissed Jacques Kallis and Gautam Gambhir, while conceding only 20 runs in their first four overs. Kallis fell to the hook for the second time running, swinging Vinay Kumar straight to deep square leg. Gambhir played inside the line of a full delivery from RP Singh that straightened and uprooted middle stump as Kolkata began to stutter.
In the next over, Manvinder Bisla drove outside the line of a Jadeja delivery to lose his off stump. Manoj Tiwary and Eoin Morgan tried to work the ball around but the spinners were getting turn, and their different styles posed problems. Muralitharan, back after being left out for the previous two games, varied his flight and angle brilliantly, Jadeja fired the ball in, and Powar stuck to flight as he always does.
The mounting asking-rate led to Morgan charging out of his crease in the 13th over for a non-existent single, and Jayawardene threw down the middle stump with a direct hit. Tiwary took on RP Singh in the next over with consecutive boundaries, but Shakib missed a low full toss off the last ball to be bowled.
With 47 required from five overs, Jayawardene brought Powar back against Yusuf, who came in lower down the order, having injured himself taking a catch earlier. It was a make-or-break move, and Yusuf duly deposited the second delivery he faced beyond the wide long-on boundary. It was either foolhardy or brave of Powar to flight the next ball from round the wicket. It turned out to be the latter, as Yusuf went hard at it and got a top edge to short third man.
It was all up to Tiwary now. He had batted intelligently, picking up the singles and finding the boundaries when the rate climbed. But Jadeja saw him charge out, and had him stumped off a wide delivery down the leg side. Iqbal Abdulla and Rajat Bhatia refused to give up, taking 12 off RP Singh's last over, the 19th. But 14 off the last over proved to be too much, and Vinay Kumar throttled them with a succession of slower deliveries, to give Kochi the game.
The result had seemed unlikely when Kolkata's spinners restricted Kochi to 132. Gautam Gambhir had turned to spin after Brendon McCullum took Brett Lee for 15 runs in the third over. Right away, the left-arm spin of Abdulla and Shakib slowed the scoring-rate.
The first breakthrough came when a Shakib delivery seemed to stop on McCullum, who edged a half-hearted cut to point. The introduction of Yusuf in the eighth over brought more trouble for Kochi. Jayawardene, who had got away with a close leg-before shout earlier against Abdulla, was given out lbw while sweeping, even though replays showed he had gloved the ball onto the pad.
Yusuf struck in each of his next two overs. The slow nature of the pitch was further highlighted by Brad Hodge's dismissal, bowled off an inside edge after playing the pull too early. Yusuf then trapped Parthiv Patel leg-before with a quicker one. Having slipped from 49 for 0 to 65 for 4, Kochi depended on Jadeja to take them to a fighting total.
He responded by smacking a six each in overs 13, 14 and 15, before swinging Lee straight to long-on for 29. Balaji and Lee ensured that Kochi didn't get away, but 132 turned out to be just enough in the end.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo