Ravindra Jadeja [ Images ] came up with a brilliant all-round display to help the resurgent Kochi Tuskers Kerala [ Images ] halt Kolkata Knight Riders' [ Images ] three-match winning run, with a narrow six-run victory, in a low-scoring Indian Premier League [ Images ] match at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Jadeja was the star of the Kochi team. He scored 29 from 18 balls to help them post 132 for seven and then scalped two wickets as the Tuskers restricted the Knight Riders to 126 for nine.
Put in to bat, Kochi had a flying start, thanks to the in-form pair of Brendon McCullum [ Images ] and Mahela Jayawardene [ Images ], but the Knight Riders did well to restrict them thanks to fine bowling by Yusuf Pathan [ Images ] (3/20) and Shakib-Al-Hasan (3/28).
Defending the meagre total, Tuskers' bowlers Jadeja (2/25) and Rudra Pratap [RP] Singh (2/25) did a tidy job, well-supported by their teammates in the field.
With 12 runs required from 26 balls, RP conceded 12 runs in his fourth, the penultimate, over of the match to bring the equation down to 14 from the last one.
But with R Vinay Kumar (1/21) bowling his slower deliveries accurately, it proved an uphill task in the end, as Tuskers notched their third straight victory.
Tuskers now join Mumbai Indians [ Images ] and Knight Riders with six points each, but the hosts retain pole position by virtue of better net run-rate.
Chasing a modest 133, Knight Riders needed to play sensible cricket, but made a mess of the seemingly low score.
R Vinay Kumar, RP and Jadeja took one each as Knight Riders were reduced to 37/3 after the first powerplay.
Their batting mainstay Kallis was victim of a Vinay Kumar short ball, while in the space of five deliveries Gambhir saw his middle stump shattered by former India teammate RP.
In the next over, Jadeja had Bisla castled, setting the stage for spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan [ Images ] to capitalise.
Coming in place of Thisara Perera, Muralitharan returned with one wicket but held the Knight Riders batsmen together, giving away 18 runs from his four overs.
Just when the duo of Tiwary and Morgan were looking to set the platform, a fine fielding effort by skipper Mahela Jayawardene ran Morgan out and broke their 36-run partnership from 38 balls.
However, Tiwary was undettered and hit two fluent boundaries off RP, only to see Shakib getting bowled at the other end in the same over.
Pathan, who hurt his knee while taking the catch of Jadeja earlier, came in with a runner and the big-hitter showed his intentions with a big six of Powar before being dismissed in the next ball, in what seemed to be a decisive blow for the Knight Riders.
Tiwary, who looked at ease till then, was then outfoxed by a smart wide ball by Jadeja and stumped.
With Tiwary gone and Knight Riders at 101/7, it was just a formality for the Tuskers to complete victory.
Earlier, theTuskers had a breezy start, thanks to McCullum, who smashed Lee for two boundaries and one six for 15 runs in the third over.
Gambhir soon introduced the spin duo of Iqbal Abdulla and Shakib in a bid to put the brakes on the run flow. There were some anxious moments but McCullum and Jaywardene continued their march; the duo ensured the team scored 45 without any loss in the first powerplay.
McCullum raced to 23 from 19 balls, hitting two boundaries and one six, while Jaywardene was equally elegant in his 25 off 27 balls (5x4).
But the superb start was undone by Pathan, who strangled the Tuskers with his slow off-spin and claimed three wickets, giving away just 20 runs.
From a blistering 49 for no loss, Tuskers were reduced to 65 for four in 30 balls. The sudden loss of wickets saw their run-rate dip sharply.
Wickets continued to tumble for Kochi, but Jadeja, who came in to bat after the dismissal of Parthiv Patel [ Images ] in the 12th over, was unruffled and launched an attack on the Knight Riders' bowlers which took the side get past 100.