Gomez and Hodge star in hard-fought win
Kochi Tuskers Kerala 156 for 5 (Jayawardene 55, Unadkat 2-25) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 139 for 7 (Morgan 66, Gomez 2-14 by 17 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A disciplined performance in the field and an explosive 35 off 19 balls from Brad Hodge helped Kochi Tuskers overcome Kolkata Knight Riders in the last match at the Nehru Stadium this IPL season.
Hodge's last over blitz, in which he took 21 runs off countryman Brett Lee, proved to be the difference between the two sides, as Kochi defended 156 by 17 runs. In the chase, RP Singh and Sreesanth failed to get the same kind of movement that Brett Lee extracted early in the Kochi innings. Jacques Kallis and Eoin Morgan didn't have to take many risks early on as there were many poor deliveries that were smacked to the boundary. In the first three overs, the bulk of the short and wide ones came from RP Singh.
R Vinay Kumar and Prasanth Parameswaran pulled back the chase before it raged out of control with a selection of back of a length deliveries that proved difficult to get away. Although they kept the boundaries down, they didn't trouble the batsmen much and failed to get a breakthrough until after the halfway stage, when Kolkata were well set. Kallis was the senior partner and easily outscored Morgan in that phase. Seven times in the first ten overs Kallis stole the strike at the end of the over.
Just as Kallis looked as though he had grown roots, Raiphi Gomez rattled Kolkata with a double strike in his second over. He bowled Kallis with a legcutter and had Gautam Gambhir caught in the covers off consecutive balls, which left Morgan to assume the senior role. Manoj Tiwary could not last long, and Yusuf Pathan was expected to counterattack, but he and Morgan were frustrated by Gomez's variations and Parameswaran's accurate fuller deliveries. Sreesanth let the noose loosen, giving Morgan back-to-back boundaries but Vinay Kumar was on hand to tighten it. Confusions between Morgan and Yusuf mounted in Vinay's last over, and Morgan was run out when both batsmen ended up at the wicketkeeper's end.
It brought Brett Lee to the crease, in poetic justice for the last over he bowled, which went for 21. There were 25 to get off the last over of Kolkata's innings. Lee was run-out and the task proved too steep.
Kochi's innings was anchored by a third-wicket partnership between Mahela Jayawardene and Michael Klinger before being given momentum at the death by Hodge. It didn't look as though Kochi would get over the 150-run mark, especially after the way things started. Lee's first over was a whole bag of peaches. He got impressive away movement and started the innings with a maiden.
Some success seemed inevitable after the start Kolkata got and it came from Jaidev Unadkat, although he hardly deserved it. He banged one in, too short and too wide outside off that Brendon McCullum chased and his fine edge nestled in Kallis' hands at slip.
Parthiv Patel came in at No. 3 and opened his account with two stunning boundaries. He looked energetic and confident in his strokeplay and dealt with Unadkat's bouncer and the introduction of spin, in the form of Iqbal Abdulla, with relative ease. Surprisingly, it was the short ball that undid him, when he charged down the track and miscued a pull shot to midwicket.
The stage was set for Jayawardene to play an innings of authority and, with Klinger at the other end, he did exactly that. They played creative cricket, managing a boundary off five of the seven overs they were together for and pushed each other to take singles before Klinger holed out. When Abdulla got the wicket of Ravindra Jadeja for eight, Kochi were being pegged back and some impetus was needed.
The floodgates were opened with Jayawardene's six over long leg at the start of the 17th over and Kochi put on 54 runs in the final four overs, with Hodge's fireworks yielding almost half of those.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent