Pune Warriors beat Kochi Tuskers Kerala by four wickets in the battle of debutantes in an Indian Premier League clash at the DY Patil Stadium in Nerul on Wednesday.
It was the home team's second win on the trot, after their demolition of Kings XI Punjab on Sunday, while being the second straight time that the visitors had finished second best, having been at the receiving end against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.
Graeme Smith (24) and Jesse Ryder (17) gave the Pune team a good start, putting on 31 for the opening wicket before R Vinay Kumar caught the latter off his own bowling.
Soon after, Smith hit a Ravindra Jadeja delivery straight to RP Singh at deep midwicket.
Mithun Manhas (12) also departed cheaply lofting Brad Hogg to long on fielder Jadeja and raised the Tuskers hopes
of a victory.
The visitors got a big boost when Yuvraj Singh, the danger man, was also polished off by the part-time Australian off-spinner, caught behind trying to cut, leaving Pune at 73 for four.
But Hogg was handicapped by the wet ball (because of dew) and Robin Uthappa struck the bowler for two fours in one over to regain the initiative.
Uthappa then lofted R P Singh over the straight field, deposited the first ball of a fresh spell from Muthiah Muralitharan over long on into the stands and then injudiciously tried a reverse sweep against the wily Sri Lankan offie to be bowled for 31 in 13 balls, inclusive of two sixes and three fours.
The partnership between the Karnataka Ranji player and Mohnish Mishra yielded 42 runs in just 20 balls and at the end
of it Warriors needed only 34 in 32 balls. Wayne Parnell was run out after a mix up with Mishra and suddenly Tuskers were in with a chance with their rivals needing 31 in 26 balls.
The target came down to 21 in 15, still a tricky one, when Rahul Sharma also with a runner because of the injury
sustained during his collision with Smith lofted Jadeja over long on for a six.
Mishra then swung Muralitharan for a four and a six to put Warriors on the doorstep of victory that they achieved
duly when he hit the veteran offie for another six.
Earlier, Ravindra Jadeja counter-punched his way to a blazing 47 as Kochi Tuskers Kerala recovered from a poor start to post a modest 148 for eight.
Tottering at 24 for four in the fifth over, the Kochi team was bailed out by a fine fifth-wicket stand of 88 runs in 64 balls between Brad Hodge (39 in 36 balls) and Jadeja, who struck three sixes and as many fours in his impressive 33-ball innings that ended in the 17th over.
But for this stand Kochi would have been shot out for below 100 by the Warriors' bowling attack that put in another impressive display after their superb show against Kings XI Punjab last Sunday.
Their twin dismissals within the space of six balls seemed to have put paid to the hopes of the Tuskers to post a more challenging score but Raiphi Gomez struck a quickfire 26 not out in 18 balls to help Kochi finish on a bright note at the D Y Patil Stadium.
Kochi, who lost their debut tie against Royal Challengers Bangalore at home, plunged straightaway into trouble after their skipper Mehela Jayawardene elected to bat first on a bouncy, pacy and seaming track.
Brendon McCullum, who has been struggling with form, fell to the first ball of the match, driving a wide ball that was swinging away from Alphonso Thomas and edging it to keeper Robin Uthappa.
The other opener, VVS Laxman, also fell for a duck after facing three balls as he inside edged South African Wayne Parnell on to his stumps, leaving the scoreboard reading 11 for two in the third over.
Parnell, who had replaced his right-handed countryman Alphonso after just one over bowled, got rid off skipper Jayawardene too cheaply for two runs in his first over. The Sri Lankan ace inside-edged a drive to the left of Uthappa, who brought off a one-handed catch.
Parthiv Patel, promoted to No 3 after having come low down in the opening match, played in his usual attacking manner, driving and cutting the bowlers.
But after a quick 21 off 19 balls, inclusive of four fours, the diminutive southpaw too departed, edging an attempted drive to slip fielder Graeme Smith off left-handed Parnell.
The Tuskers, looking down and out at 24 for four in the fifth over, were thankful to Jadeja as he relieved some pressure by striking Alphonso for three successive fours.
It was a hard struggle for the batsmen and the 50 could be raised only in the ninth over, with Brad Hodge and Jadeja at the crease.
Jadeja slog-swept Yuvraj Singh, when India's World Cup hero faltered in his line, over the square leg region for his first six as Kochi moved to 64 for 4 after ten overs.
Leg beak bowler Rahul Sharma was also carted over long-n by the left hander for his second six.
Hodge then sent Murali Kartik over the mid-wicket fence for his first six when the left arm slow bowler returned for his second spell, after a two-over first stint for nine runs, and erred in line.
The seasoned Aussie lofted the bowler again in the next over for his second six, over long-on, to bring the total close to the 100 mark, which was raised later in 86 balls when the duo was still unconquered.
Hodge departed in the 16th over, caught in the deep by Murali Kartik while giving the charge to Sharma. He was soon followed into the hut by his partner Jadeja, who mistimed a big-hit off Jesse Ryder and skied the ball to Parnell at mid-off.
Gomez, who struck three fours, and Sreesanth put on 30 crucial runs in 2.5 overs to give a late boost to the score.
Parnell was the pick of the bowlers with a brilliant opening stint of 2-0-5-3 that took the wind out of the Kochi sail within the first five overs.
There was an on-field collision between Rahul Sharma and Graeme Smith when both fielders went for a high catch near the sightscreen without calling out to each other in the 19th over. Smith hurt his knee and needed medical attention and a substitute fielder.