A fluctuating game between the two new teams in the tournament ended with Pune Warriors at the top of the table and Kochi Tuskers Kerala near the other end. The unheralded Paul Valthathy had played a blinder to win the first game of the day for Kings XI Punjab, and it was another low-profile player, Mohnish Mishra, who sealed the game for Pune with an unruffled 37 in a close finish at the DY Patil Stadium.
For the second game in a row, Mahela Jayawardene was let down by the bowling in the death. Raiphi Gomez had been taken for three sixes by AB de Villiers in the 18th over of Kochi's opening match to win it for Bangalore; today with Pune's main batsmen dismissed and 20 needed off 13 balls, Ravindra Jadeja was hammered for a straight six by Rahul Sharma, before Mishra clubbed Muttiah Muralitharan for a four and two sixes over the leg side in five deliveries to grab a victory for Pune.
Pune had been galloping to victory when Robin Uthappa played a typically powerful cameo. Uthappa had started with an assured reverse-sweep off Murali first ball, and looked in great touch sprinting to 30 off 11 deliveries, including a monster hit over wide long-on off Murali that was perhaps the biggest six of the tournament. His cavalier attempt at another reverse-sweep, though, ended with him being bowled, and Wayne Parnell's run-out an over later evened the match as Pune slumped to 118 for 6.
That was one of the many twists the game took. Kochi began badly as for the third match in a row, there was a wicket off the first ball: Alfonso Thomas dismissed Brendon McCullum with a swinging delivery that was nicked to the wicketkeeper. Wayne Parnell then nailed two experienced batsmen, VVS Laxman and Mahela Jayawardene, to inside-edges which left Kochi hobbling at 24 for 4.
Still, Kochi showed the depth in their batting with Jadeja and Hodge launching a fightback. Jadeja came out swinging, grabbing three boundaries in his first over, while Hodge was more circumspect. Jadeja swung a couple of sixes over midwicket off the spinners to bring up the 50 partnership, after which Hodge also went for his shots.
With the boundaries flowing, Kochi galloped to 111 for 4 after 15 overs, before Pune hit back. Murali Kartik plucked a low catch falling forward at long-on to send back Hodge for 39, and Jadeja mishit an attempted slog to mid-off in the next over. The double-blow choked the runs - instead of a big flourish, only nine came in three overs. Kochi were headed for an underwhelming score but Raiphi Gomes helped plunder 28 off the final two overs to lift them to 148.
Kochi has a bit of fortune in removing the Pune openers. The chase started with some cover-driven boundaries from Jesse Ryder and Graeme Smith before Vinay Kumar's reflex attempt to catch a mishit from Ryder bounced off his arms on to his chest before Vinay completed a juggling catch. Smith seemed to be hitting form with some muscular boundaries but his innings was cut short when he swiped a full toss to the fielder at deep midwicket.
Hodge getting the ball to turn, and he produced two quick breakthroughs which kept Kochi in the hunt. Mithun Manhas holed out to long-on and Yuvraj Singh walked after edging to the keeper to leave Pune in a bit of trouble at 72 for 4. Uthappa's power-hitting and the cool head of Mishra, though, confirmed the win after some more anxious moments.