Pune Warriors notched up their second consecutive victory in the Indian Premier League with a comfortable four-wicket victory against Kochi Tuskers Kerala in a battle of debutants here on Wednesday.
Chasing 149 to win set by the Tuskers, the Warriors were at a tricky 118 for six in the 16th over but Mohnish Mishra, who made an unbeaten 37 in 21 balls with two fours and as many sixes, and Rahul Sharma (10 not out) stitched a useful 33-run stand in 19 balls to help Pune overhaul the target.
The other useful contributions with the bat for Pune came from Jesse Ryder (17), Graeme Smith (24) and Robin Uthappa who stroked his way to a quickfire 31 in 13 balls with three fours and two sixes.
Kochi bowlers could not defend the target for the second match running and suffered their second defeat after the loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore, while Pune got their second successive win in the tournament after having seen off the challenge from Kings XI Punjab last Sunday.
Earlier, Ravindra Jadeja counter-punched his way to 47 in 33 balls as Kochi recovered from a poor start and posted a modest 148 for eight at the D Y Patil Stadium.
Tottering at 24 for four in the fifth over, Kochi 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 innings that ended in the 17th over.
But for this stand, Kochi would have been bowled out for below 100 by the Warriors bowling attack that put in another impressive display after their superb show against Kings XI Punjab.
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 quick-fire 26 not out in 18 balls to help Kochi finish on a brighter note.
Pune started the reply strongly when openers Jesse Ryder and Graeme Smith, batting with a runner following the knee injury he sustained after a collision with Rahul Sharma while fielding, put on 31 in quick time.
But a brilliant return catch by Vinay Kumar separated the duo and sent back Ryder who smacked the ball back strongly only for the bowler to stick his hand out and latch on to the ball.
Ryder struck R P Singh for a couple of fours in the opening over while Smith dealt severely with S Sreesanth at the other end to force skipper Mahela Jayawardene to remove both the opening bowlers after one over spells.
The move paid dividends when Vinay Kumar sent back Ryder for 17. Jadeja later dismissed Smith with a rank full toss that the left hander hit straight to deep mid wicket to reduce the Warriors to 54 for 2.
Mithun Manhas also departed cheaply at 61, lofting Brad Hogg to long on fielder Jadeja, and raised the Tuskers hope of a victory that got a big boost when Yuvraj Singh, the danger man, was also polished off by the part-time off Australian spinner, caught behind trying to cut, leaving Pune at 73 for four.
But Hogg was handicapped by the wet ball because of the 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 the 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, Kochi were in deep trouble after choosing to bat first on the bouncy, pacy and seaming track as both their openers were dismissed for naught.
Brendon McCullum, who has been struggling for form, fell to the first ball of the match, driving a wide ball that was swinging away from Alphonso Thomas and edging to keeper Robin Uthappa.
VVS Laxman also fell for a duck after facing three balls when he inside edged Wayne Parnell on to his stumps to make it 11 for 2 in the third over.
Parnell got rid off Jayawardene too cheaply for two runs in his first over when 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, played in his usual attacking manner driving and cutting the bowlers. But after a quick-fire 21 off 19 balls with four fours, the diminutive southpaw too departed edging an attempted drive to Graeme Smith fielding at slip off the bowling of Parnell.
Tuskers, down and out for the count at 24 for four in the fifth over, were thankful to Jadeja, who made 23 not out against Royal Challengers, to relieve some pressure as he struck Alphonso for three successive fours.
It was a hard struggle for the batsmen and the 50 could be raised only in the 9th 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. Leg-break bowler Rahul Sharma was also carted over long on 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.
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 Kartik when giving the charge to Sharma and was followed into the hut immediately afterwards by his fifth wicket 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 sails within the first five overs.