Opener Eoin Morgan's half century went in vain, as Kochi Tuskers Kerala produced clinical bowling to beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 17 runs in an Indian Premier League match in Kochi on Thursday.
Kolkata paid the price for a poor final over, by Brett Lee, that cost them 22 runs, man of the match Brad Hodge (35 not out, 3x4, 2x6) hitting a couple of sixes and boundaries.
Chasing 157 for victory, Morgan and Jacques Kallis (45, 41 balls) got 69 in the first 10 overs, but Raiphi Gomez dismissed Kallis and rival skipper Gautam Gambhir (0) off successive deliveries to bring the home team right back in the match.
The turning point was Gomez's spell of two for 14. He was brilliantly backed by India discard R Vinay Kumar (2/28) and some tidy work by the fielders.
Morgan finally came good with the bat, smashing eight fours and two sixes in his 51-ball knock, to provide solidity to Kolkata's run chase at the Nehru stadium.
It was the middle overs that Kolkata frittered away as the Kochi bowlers kept a tight leash on them. The boundaries were difficult to come by and only added to the pressure.
Having watched Morgan hit two boundaries off pacer R P Singh in the first over, Kallis got into the act, hitting the same bowler for couple of more boundaries.
Gomez, who bowled wicket-to-wicket, breached Kallis's defences, the batsman playing inside and getting bowled.
Gambhir tried to make room in order to hit over extra-cover but holed out to his counterpart, Mahela Jayawardene.
But the loss of two crucial wickets did not stop Morgan from taking chances. He clobbered R P Singh for a four and six in the 12th over and then picked Vinay Kumar for special treatment, hitting him for two fours. However, he failed to up the ante after that.
The in-form Manoj Tiwary (1) too departed, caught by Brendon McCullum at midwicket off pacer Vinay Kumar.
Morgan somewhat tried to break the shackles in the 17th over, clobbering Sreesanth for a four and six to accumulate 13 runs from the over.
With 31 required of the last two overs, Morgan and Yusuf Pathan (17) tried to accelerate the innings but only ended up in a terrible mix-up, resulting in Morgan's run-out.
Pathan followed suit, with Jayawardene taking a brilliant catch as KKR's hopes were completely dashed.
Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene led from the front, hitting a fighting half-century to help Kochi post a challenging 156 for five.
Jayawardene came up with a 41-ball 55, inclusive of two fours and as many sixes, while Australian Brad Hodge (34) smashed an unbeaten 35 off just 19 deliveries in the death overs to guide the home side to a competitive total.
Hodge hit three fours and two sixes to help Kochi cross the 150-run mark after being put into bat.
The Sri Lankan also added a crucial 50 runs with opener Michael Klinger (29) for the third wicket to provide the much-needed impetus to Kochi's innings.
For the Knight Riders, Jaidev Unadkat finished with two for 25, while Rajat Bhatia (1/22) and Yusuf Pathan (1/16) chipped in with a wicket each.
Kolkata's Australian import Brett Lee, who remained wicketless, opened the bowling for the visitors and bowled a superb maiden over under overcast conditions, with ball nipping away from the right-hander Brendon McCullum.
McCullum (1) was first to depart, caught at first slip by Jacques Kallis off Unadkat while attempting a big shot in the second over of the innings.
Next man-in Parthiv Patel (21) looked promising as he clobbered Lee for two consecutive fours in the third over to somewhat push the scoring rate.
However, his stay at the crease was cut short by Unadkat, who lured the Kochi batsman into a pull-shot only to be caught by Rajat Bhatia over midwicket in the sixth over.
As he was getting increasingly restless, Patel decided to come down the pitch and pull Unadkat but his mistimed swing was lapped by Bhatia on the third attempt, who had to run back a few paces.
Skipper Jayawardene then joined forces with opener Klinger and helped the team's cause with singles and twos.
It was in the eighth over, bowled by Sarabjit Ladda, that saw Kochi accumulate 13 runs, Jayawardene depositing a short-pitched delivery from the leg-spinner for a six over extra cover into the crowd.
That particular hit also brought up the Sri Lankan's 1000 runs in the tournament.
This over was followed by another from Jacques Kallis that yielded nine runs.
Both Jayawardene and Klinger first steadied the ship for Kochi and then hit few occasional boundaries to share a half-century partnership.
Kolkata skipper Gautam Gambhir introduced part-timer Yusuf Pathan into the attack in the 12th over. The burly Pathan proved his captain's decision right as he accounted for Klinger in his first over.
He was caught by Iqbal Abdulla at deep midwicket. The Victoria batsman hit three fours in his 26-ball stay at the crease.
Ravindra Jadeja (8), who has so far looked threatening in the tournament with his lusty blows in the end, failed to lived up to the reputation and departed early without troubling the scorers.
He was caught by Pathan at square leg off Rajat Bhatia.
Jayawardene completed his half-century in the 19th over with a four towards point off Kallis. But a terrible mix-up with Hodge resulted in the Sri Lankan being run-out in the same over.