Delhi Daredevils' all-pace attack seemed to have done enough at the halfway stage to get their team a much-required win but Kolkata Knight Riders showed their mettle to scrap their way to an 18-run victory on a two-paced Feroz Shah Kotla track.
Both teams seemed to have misread the pitch, packing their sides with quicks. It was left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla though who was the most influential of the bowlers, spinning his first ball "like Warne to Gatting" according to Brett Lee, as he nipped out three wickets in a stifling spell.
After Delhi chose to bowl, Irfan Pathan found that elusive and coveted inducker to shackle Kolkata at the start, Umesh Yadav bowled it fast and at the batsman's chest to snuff out two key batsmen in the middle overs, and even the much-ridiculed Ajit Agarkar kept it tight in the final over.
If the usually incisive and economical Morne Morkel was Delhi's most expensive bowler, Kolkata's best batsman was not one of their big-money imports, but their local boy, Manoj Tiwary, who made a combative half-century to stabilise the innings.
Still, Delhi had a seemingly below-par target to chase, and that was looking even smaller when Virender Sehwag was crashing boundaries at will through the off side. A murderous blast over cover followed by a piledriver past backward point from Sehwag in the fourth over took Delhi to 28 for 1.
Everything changed in the next two overs. Abdulla, the first spinner to bowl in the match, ripped the ball a long way in the fifth over, making the ball stop and nearly had James Hopes giving a return catch. Then, Jaidev Unadkat, who was getting the ball to jag around, fired in two bouncers at Sehwag, the second of which was top-edged to fine leg.
That massive wicket and the big turn combined to squeeze the runs, and only 21 came off the next five overs before Abdulla had Irfan swiping to Ryan ten Doeschate at midwicket. With Delhi's experiment with Tasmanian batsman Travis Birt failing, much depended on Hopes, who also perished to Abdulla; ending a patient innings with a punch to cover in the 15th over. Three balls later, Abdulla had his third with Naman Ojha mowing to the deep, and at 86 for 6 Delhi were out of it.
Shah Rukh Khan and the rest in the Kolkata camp were briefly worried when Delhi blasted 14 off the 18th over, though they were smiling again as Brett Lee killed off the game with a perfect penultimate over which had two runs and two run-outs.
That silenced the Kotla crowd, which had plenty to cheer early on as their fast bowlers tied down Kolkata's heavyweight batting. Jacques Kallis was swallowed up in the fifth over by the exaggerated inswing Irfan was extracting and Gautam Gambhir holed out against Hopes' no-frills bowling for 18.
Tiwary was not at his most fluent, though he muscled the odd boundary to drive Kolkata ahead. The men Kolkata expected the big hits from - Yusuf Pathan and Eoin Morgan - perished off successive deliveries from Umesh to leave the side at 105 for 5 in 15 overs. Though only three boundaries came off the final five overs, the total ultimately proved sufficient.
With the win Kolkata became the fourth team to occupy second spot in five days. While there has been plenty of churn in the middle of the table, there's been no change at the top and bottom for several rounds, with Delhi remaining stuck at the wrong end.