Kolkata Knight Riders kept their slender hopes of making the playoffs alive, while landing a minor blow to Royal Challenger Bangalore's chances of finishing in the top-four of IPL 2013, with a five-wicket win in an attritional T20 game in Ranchi.
On a slow pitch hardly conducive to shot-making, RCB were strangled by the KKR bowlers, led by Sunil Narine (four for 22), with the Bangalore side only managing 115 for nine from their allotted 20 overs.
In reply, KKR made hard work of their chase, eventually reaching the target with four balls to spare, thanks largely to a patient 41 from Jacques Kallis.
KKR now have six wins in 14 games, while RCB stay fourth on 16 points, but will move out of the playoff places, if Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have a game in hand, win their next match against the Mumbai Indians on Monday.
KKR did not really do too much wrong in the chase; understanding the nature of the wicket and more importantly the size of the target, the designated home side paced their chase pretty well, despite a couple of hiccups on the way.
Manvinder Bisla did not have much of a say in the chase, though, finding Moises Henriques at point off the second delivery of the innings from Ravi Rampaul.
However, the wicket maiden was put to the back burner by KKR, with Gautam Gambhir smashing three boundaries off Abhimanyu Mithun to build some momentum.
The skipper threw away his wicket in the sixth over unnecessarily, going for an expansive shot over the offside off R Vinay Kumar, but only managing to edge it to Chris Gayle at slip.
The second wicket partnership between Gambhir and Jacques Kallis yielded 31 runs, and after the former's wicket, Kallis allied with Yusuf Pathan for another 30 runs to take KKR closer to the target.
Pathan was looking decent in the middle, but fell prey to a questionable lbw decision with Murali Kartik celebrating the wicket against his old team as if he had won the IPL 2013 title.
With KKR needing 55 from a little over nine overs at that point, Manoj Tiwary (24, 27b, 3x4) came in and showed a little bit of aggression to calm the nerves in the dugout.
The wickets of Kallis (41, 45b, 4x4) and Tiwary late on brought on the butterflies, but Ryan Ten Doeschate (11 in 7 balls) finished things off nicely to give his side a much-needed victory.
Earlier, RCB struggled to make any kind of impact in their innings, as the KKR bowlers restricted one of the best batting teams in IPL 2013 to well below 120.
RCB are about three players - Gayle, Kohli and De Villers - and if you dismiss all three batsmen cheaply, then the side just do not have anyone to take up the mantle.
The aspect going RCB's way is the fact that the trio are so good that very rarely do all three of them fail in the same innings, as was the case on Sunday in Ranchi.
On a slow pitch, tailor-made for the KKR bowlers, RCB failed to gain any kind of momentum, with Cheteshwar Pujara the first batsman to go in the fifth over. The right-handed opener struggled quite a bit in the middle, scoring just five runs in 14 balls before falling to Sachitra Senanayake while trying to accelerate the innings.
There was hardly any cause for worry at that moment, with Kohli joining Gayle in the middle, even if the run rate was well below four runs an over.
However, Kohli (17, 14b, 2x4) was also walking back to the pavilion a few overs later, chopping one onto the stumps off Kallis.
Gayle was playing a surreal innings at the other end, failing to find any kind of timing in his shots and looking visibly frustrated by the slowness of the pitch.
Even with the calming influence of AB De Villiers at the other end, it came as no surprise when the big Wet Indian was dismissed. Manvinder Bisla, quick as a cat, whipped off the bails after Gayle (33, 36b, 1x4, 1x6) was beaten by a delivery from Sunil Narine, with the replays showing the left-hander's foot flush on the line when the wickets were disturbed.
De Villers (28, 22b, 1x4, 1x6) threatened to cut loose with a four and a six, but an attempted reverse-sweep turned out to be his undoing, with the ball going straight to the wicketkeeper Bisla off L Balaji (two for 22).
RCB were 95 for four from 15.5 overs at that point, and there was a bit of pressure on the shoulders of hometown boy Saurabh Tiwary and Moises Henriques to put together a decent partnership.
However, Narine trapped Tiwary in front of the wicket, before Kallis (two for 17) dismissed Henriques. Three more wickets fell in the last couple of overs, with Narine - with final figures of 4-0-22-4 -- picking up two of them as RCB stuttered to 115 for nine.