A determined bowling effort saw Kochi defend a meagre total of 132 runs at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday, bringing an end to Kolkata’s three-match unbeaten run.
Three wickets apiece from KKR spinners Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan had restricted Kochi to 132 for seven, but the home side were unable to capitalise with the bat and stumbled to 126 for nine from their 20 overs with each of the Tuskers bowlers amongst the wickets.
Earlier in the day – having been put in to bat by home skipper Gautam Gambhir – Kochi set off to a fantastic start thanks to Brendon McCullum and Mahela Jayawardene, McCullum (23 from 19) taking a particular liking to Brett Lee, clubbing the Australian’s second over for 15 runs to set the innings in motion.
With the opening stand worth 49 inside of the seventh over, it was the New Zealander who was the first to go as he bunted an awkward stroke straight to Eoin Morgan at point, gifting Shakib Al Hasan his first wicket.
From being in control the Tuskers top-order then unravelled as Jayawardene (25) departed leg before wicket to a jubilant Yusuf Pathan (3 for 20) in the very next over. The Indian allrounder wrecked further damage by bowling Brad Hodge and removing Parthiv Patel lbw to reduce the Tuskers to 65 for four.
Allrounder Ravindra Jadeja (29) launched the Kochi fightback with three large sixes before he held out to Pathan at long on – the KKR man injuring himself in the process before spending the rest of the innings on the sidelines.
Bangladesh captain Shakib (4 for 29) was brought back into the attack and duly removed Kedhar Jadhav and Vinay Kumar as the visitors laboured through the last couple of overs to reach 132 for seven from their allotted 20 overs.
Favourites at the halfway mark, the Kolkata’s chase did not start well with key duo Gambhir and Jacques Kallis contributing a combined total of nine runs. Kallis picked out the fielder at deep square leg off a Vinay Kumar bouncer while the Knight Riders captain had his stumps rearranged by RP Singh. Jadeja then struck with his left-arm spin to bowl Manvinder Bisla, leaving the home side in trouble at 37 for three.
Manoj Tiwary dug in and received brief support from Eoin Morgan (10) before running the Englishman out and Shakib lasted just five deliveries before becoming Singh’s second victim.
Tiwary continued a brave knock and when the dangerous Pathan – with Morgan on as a runner – launched a massive six in Ramesh Powar’s 16th over, the game was very much within Kolkata’s reach.
The key moment then came from the very next delivery as Powar bravely tempted Pathan with a floating delivery which drew the big stroke, this time finding a thick outside edge to Muttiah Muralitharan at short thirdman.
With the pressure mounting on the home side Tiwary was stumped for 46 after some intelligent bowling from Jadeja and Lee followed with a flat straight hit to the fielder at long on.
The Knight Riders hopes, with eight wickets down, fell to Rhajat Bhatia and Iqbal Abdulla but with 15 runs required from the final over there was too much left to do and Vinay Kumar tidy final over secured Kochi a hugely significant six run victory.
All five of the Tuskers bowlers took wickets with Singh and Jadeja both ending two for 25 from their respective four overs.
Kolkata remain top of the IPL table despite the defeat while Kochi – now unbeaten in three games – move up into third. Cricket365