Rajasthan Royals edged past Deccan Chargers by two runs in a highly entertaining Indian Premier League match featuring the winners of the two previous editions, at the VCA Ground, in Nagpur on Monday.
Chasing a modest 160 to win, the home side just fell short, eventually dismissed for 157.
It was Rajasthan's fifth win in 10 matches and helped them remain in the hunt for a semi-final berth.
The win also kept intact Rajasthan's impeccable record of having never lost a match when defending 150 runs or more. In fact, it was their 10th straight win in such a situation.
It was also Rajasthan Royals' fifth win in six matches against Deccan Chargers.
For the defending champions, it was their sixth loss in nine matches and kept them in seventh place on the league table, and also kept in tact what can be termed an unwanted record -- a pathetic run of results at home.
The defeat was the 10th in 12 matches at home for Deccan Chargers and the defending champions - having adopted three home venues (Navi Mumbai, Cuttack and Nagpur) -- have got some serious thinking to do when they play a home match next.
Rohit Sharma (73) registered a fifth IPL fifty while also becoming only the fourth batsman to have more than 1000 runs in the tournament -- after Adam Gilchrist, Suresh Raina and Matthew Hayden.
Sharma's 44-ball knock, inclusive of eight hits to the fence and two over it, almost did the trick for the home team.
Captain Shane Warne was the best bowler for the Rajasthan Royals with impressive figures off four for 21, his best in the shortest form of the game.
The match was essentially a battle between Sharma, the young Deccan batsman, and Warne, the veteran Rajasthan bowler and captain.
And it was the veteran's experience that got the better of the youngster's aggression in the end.
Having exceled with the bat for Rajasthan, Shane Watson started woefully with the ball -- in the second over of the innings.
The Australian had four wide balls in his opening over before allowing Adam Gilchrist (34) to break free, first with a maximum over long-on and then with successive boundaries -- the over costing Rajasthan a whopping 20 runs.
VVS Laxman (6) tried to replicate Gilchrist by pulling debutant Aditya Dole to the fence, but failed miserably, hitting straight to Yusuf Pathan at deep square leg.
Gilchrist eased the pressure by plundering 17 runs in Dole's second over, including successive sixes, before the bowler had him caught by Michael Lumb in front of square leg.
It was yet another interesting cameo from Gilchrist, and another instance when he failed to convert a good start to something more significant -- his 17-ball knock comprising of three boundaries and an equal number of maximums.
Andrew Symonds (15) announced his arrival with a boundary off Morkel but struggled to break free thereafter.
After looking unconvincing during his 20-ball knock, he finally skied a Sidhharth Trivedi delivery and Faiz Fazal made no mistake at extra cover.
Sharma steered a Trivedi delivery to the backward point boundary and then smashed Shane Warne over the square-leg boundary to ease the pressure.
But Warne had Anirudh Singh (9) caught by Naman Ojha to put the pressure back on going into the second strategic timeout.
And, in his third over, the Rajasthan captain gave his side another ray of hope with his second wicket -- Dwayne Smith (4) top-edged a flighted leg break and Trivedi made no mistake at deep backward square leg.
Sharma eased pressure by hitting three successive boundary off Watson, the first of them not only helping him reach his fifth IPL fifty but also helping him surpass the 1000-run mark in the tournament.
Warne, however, came back to strike twice in his final over to set up an interesting finish.
The Australian legend first had Azhar Bilakhia (2) caught by Abhishek Raut at extra cover and then cleaned up Ryan Harris (1) with yet another leg break.
Deccan required 19 runs off their final two overs and Sharma smashed the first delivery of the penultimate over by Morkel to the long-on fence.
Four balls later, he cleared the fence for a maximum -- and just six were required off the final over.
But there was more drama in store.
Trivedi had RP Singh (3) caught by Morkel at mid-on. And then Harmeet Singh (1) was run out in a bizarre manner -- when the third umpire had to be summoned.
And when Sharma was caught by Abhishek Raut at extra cover in the penultimate over, it was all over.
Trivedi's last over had earned Rajasthan three wickets and a fighting win.
Earlier, a superlative half-century by Shane Watson helped Rajasthan Royals to a competitive total.
The visitors made 159 in 19.5 overs.
The Australian all-rounder, the player of the tournament in the first edition but playing in only his second match this season, registered his sixth IPL fifty, his second on the trot -- following his 60 against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday.
His 36-ball 58 was inclusive of three hits to the fence and three over it.
And he was involved in the only partnership of note in the Rajasthan innings -- the 77-run stand for the third wicket with Faiz Fazal (36).
RP Singh was the most successful bowler for the home team with figures of three for 17.
Deccan Chargers, the team to have conceded the most runs in the last five overs going into the match, improved their record to a considerable extent by giving away just 31 runs while picking up six wickets.
The match started on a dramatic note.
Ryan Harris, after a few juggles, appeared to have caught Michael Lumb (15) off his own bowling.
The Hampshire batsman had walked back but the television replays suggested the ball touched the ground. The batsman was called back and he celebrated his reprieve by smashing the ball over the long-off for a maximum.
The South African continued his aggression by hitting Dwyane Smith for successive boundaries in the second over.
However, the introduction of RP Singh in the third over translated into two wickets for the home side.
First, ensured the end of Lumb, the left-hander being caught by Harris at deep midwicket - and on this occasion there was no doubt about the catch.
The bowler-fielder duo combined yet again two balls later to account for Naman Ojha (1), this time the catch being taken at cover.
Shane Watson eased the pressure a bit by pulling Harmet Singh over midwicket for a maximum in the next over.
The Australian was fortunate when Harris dropped him deep midwicket off Andrew Symonds in the sixth over and Watson expressed his gratitude by smashing the very next ball over long-on for his second maximum.
When the field restrictions eased, Rajasthan had scored 48 for two.
Pragyan Ojha, the most successful of the Deccan Chargers' bowlers, was introduced into the attack after the first strategic break - in the eighth over - and both the batsmen welcomed him with a boundary piece.
Fazal helped himself to two boundaries in three balls off Ojha's second over before the bowler further bolstered his tally of wickets by having the batsman caught by Azhar Bilakhia at deep midwicket.
Yusuf Pathan (5) didn't last long, Harris having him caught by VVS Laxman at backward point off a short delivery. Yusuf's dismissal was an example of a perfect execution of an equally perfect plan.
The bowler almost had Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (11) caught behind off the next ball, but a diving Gilchrist couldn't latch on to it.
Symonds hit another six off Ojha over long-off and completed his half century with a couple of the next ball.
However, Harmeet Singh ensured two wickets for the team from Hyderabad in the 16th over. He first had Jhunjhunwala caught by Laxman at gully and trapped Abhishek Raut (0) leg before three balls later.
And RP Singh came back to take his third wicket -- the most vital of them all -- when he had Watson caught by Anirudh Singh at deep square leg.
Shane Warne (1) was run-out in the next over -- it was the 16th instance that a Rajasthan batsman was run out in the tournament, the most by any team.
Aditya Dole (4) was caughy by Symonds at short cover (off Harris) in the penultimate over.
And Smith cleaned up Siddharth Trivedi (9) with a perfect yorker to end the Rajasthan innings.
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals' captain called correctly and opted to bat.
"It looks a good wicket though there seems to be a little more grass," reasoned Warne, adding, "If we can put a good score, we can defend."
His Deccan counterpart, Adam Gilchrist, seemed to concur.
"It's quite hard. There is some grass but it looks good," said Gilly.
Deccan Chargers: Adam Gilchrist (captain), VVS Laxman, Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma, Azhar Bilakhia, Anirudh Singh, Dwyane Smith, Ryan Harris, RP Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Harmeet Singh.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Warne (captain), Naman Ojha, Michael Lumb, Faiz Fazal, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Yusuf Pathan, Shane Watson, Abhishek Raut, Aditya Dole, Morne Morkel, Siddharth Trivedi.