For the second game in a row, Mahela Jayawardene-led Kochi Tuskers Kerala got close to the winning mark, but faltered just before it to end up on the losing side once more. After huffing and puffing to a somewhat decent 148, thanks to a belligerent cameo from Raiphi Gomez (26 from 18 balls), Kerala had Pune Warriors on the mat at 118/6, but failed to deliver the final punch. On the contrary, that came from a lad named Mohnish Mishra from Pune Warriors. Mishra slammed 37 from 21 balls to seal the game and ensure that the finish wasn’t as tight as it seemed to be a while ago.
It was Muralitharan’s last over that eventually decided the fate of the game. Until then, it was still anybody game. The Sri Lankan legend was buoyant having claimed the dangerous Robin Uthappa and was looking for more preys. Instead, the little known Mishra clubbed him for a four and two sixes over long on to clinch the win for his side, as Murali ended with highly expensive figures of 1/42. His partner Rahul Sharma also aided him to an extent, bludgeoning a huge six off Ravindra Jadeja’s last delivery to bring the game on an even keel.
Earlier, the Warriors were off to a pretty decent start, thanks to some punchy strokes from their openers Jesse Ryder and Graeme Smith. At 31 for no loss in the fourth over, all seemed to be going according to plan for Yuvraj Singh’s men when an attempted slash from Ryder caught R. Vinay Kumar on the chest, only for the bowler to gobble it up on the rebound. A little later, Smith was just seemed to be playing himself into some kind of form, hit a full toss straight to a fielder off Jadeja’s bowling to keep Kochi’s hope alive.
Alive they did stay as Brad Hodge turned the ball and picked up two wickets in two balls. Hodge, who played for KKR in the previous editions, sent back the in form Mithun Manhas and skipper Yuvraj Singh to put Pune in trouble at 73 for 4. To Yuvraj’s credit, taking a leaf out of Sachin Tendulkar’s book, he walked. The drama continued as Robin Uthappa came in and spanked 31 from a mere 13 balls. He was especially severe on Muralitharan, lofting, reverse sweeping and literally clubbing. However, the wily old Lankan had the last laugh as, attempting and over ambitious reverse sweep again, Uthappa was castled by the doosra. Wayne Parnell fell soon after, run out. However, Mishra then punished Murali again to finally settle the matter.
If at the match got this close, it were due to the efforts of Brad Hodge, Ravindra Jadeja and Gomez. The Kochi Tuskers got off to a disastrous start with both Brendon McCullum and VVS Laxman falling without scoring. And to make matters worse, Mahela Jayawardene and Parthiv Patel too perished inside the first five overs, with the score reading a disastrous 24/4. This is where Jadeja came in and began the counter-attack. His stroke filled 47 combined with a sedate 39 from Hodge and a handsome 26 by Gomez took them to 148. But, despite their bowlers’ best efforts, it just was not big enough.
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