Kochi, May 5: Opener Eoin Morgan's half century went in-vain as Kochi Tuskers Kerala produced a clinical bowling display to beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 17 runs in an Indian Premier League match here today.
KKR paid the price for a poor final over bowled by Brett Lee that cost them 22 runs with 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.
It was Gomez's spell of two for 14 that became the turning point. He was brilliantly backed up by India discard R Vinay Kumar (2/28) and some tidy work by the fielders.
Morgan finally came good with the bat as he smashed 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 where Kolkata frittered as KTK bowlers kept a tight leash on them. The boundaries were difficult to come by adding 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 defence when he played inside the line to get bowled. Gambhir tried to make room in order to hit over extra-cover but was holed out by his counterpart Mahela Jayawardene.
But the loss of two crucial wickets did not stop Morgan from taking chances as 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.
In-form Manoj Tiwary (1) too departed as he was 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 of the over.
With 31 required of 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 the suit with Mahela taking a brilliant catch as KKR's hopes were completely dashed.
Earlier, put into bat, skipper Jayawardene led from the front, as his gutsy half-century helped KTK post a challenging 156 for five.
Jayawardene came up with a 41-ball 55 with the help of two fours and as many sixes, while it was Hodge's unbeaten 35 that proved to be decisive in the end.
The former Sri Lankan captain also added crucial 50 runs along with opener Michael Klinger (29) for the third wicket to provide he much-needed impetus to Kochi innings.
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 Sri Lankan's run out in the same over.
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.
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.
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 leggie Sarabjit Ladda that saw Kochi outfit accumulating 13 runs with Jayawardene depositing a short-pitch delivery from the leg-spinner for a six over extra-cover into the crowd.
That particular hit also brought the Sri Lankan's 1000 runs in the tournament. PTI