Sunil Narine was at his parsimonious best, while Robin Uthappa continued his stellar form as the Kolkata Knight Riders extended that winning streak to three with a clinical victory over the Mumbai Indians in their IPL 2014 match in Cuttack.
Choosing to bowl first, KKR, led by Narine, who was supreme in the final overs, restricted the Mumbai Indians to 141 for five, with only Rohit Sharma (51) managing a real score of note.
The target was never going to really trouble KKR, especially with the form their openers are in, as Uthappa eased to a wonderfully delightful 80 to guide his team to a comfortable victory with 8 balls to spare.
The two points are crucial for KKR, who now sit alone in fourth place with five wins in ten matches, after the Sunrisers Hyderabad were stunned by the Kings XI Punjab in the early game. MI's chances of making the playoffs, and indeed defending their title, now look quite remote with this loss, their seventh in ten games.
Gautam Gambhir and Uthappa's opening partnership had been key to KKR's two-match winning run coming into this match, and the two in-form batsmen provided yet another 50-run partnership to set the platform for the chase.
Neither players looked too troubled in the first seven overs, with the duo happy to pick up the singles and twos, play intelligent cricket, while finding the boundary when required -- Uthappa very much the more aggressive of the two.
Gambhir (14, 18b, 1x4) has been the one to pretty much see his side through in the last couple of games, but the KKR skipper was the first batsman to be dismissed, with the left-hander playing one onto his stumps off Harbhajan Singh.
However, with the required rate at just a shade over seven, and Uthappa looking as calm and composed as he has looked in quite a while, it was easy peasy for KKR, with the opener putting on a nice little partnership of 46 in 41 with Manish Pandey.
The Karnataka duo did it nice and easy, with the MI bowlers, including Lasith Malinga, unable to find enough penetration on the placid wicket, while any edge that was found duly escaped the fielders – it was just one of those days for the defending champions.
MI could have showed a little more urgency considering their playoff hopes probably lie in this match, but Uthappa, who picked up his fifth straight score of over 40 in IPL 2014, made batting look really simple, with Pandey falling after a 21-ball 14, castled by Harbhajan in the 15th over.
With just 46 runs needed, though, even KKR, with that spectacular collapse against the Rajasthan Royals still probably haunting them, could not implode, as Uthappa (80, 52b, 9x4, 3x6) smashed a few towards the end, before Yusuf Pathan (20 n.o., 13b, 3x4), happy to just play double-digit deliveries in his 100th IPL match, provided the finishing touches.
The first innings was a bit of a disappointment for MI, with none of their batsmen really able to get that gear kicking into overdrive, even if a slow and low pitch played a big part.
Lendl Simmons, who was so impressive against the Sunrisers a couple of days back, and CM Gautam could not provide the blazing start that the Mumbai Indians would have been hoping for, with Gautam, first falling to Morne Morkel, before Simmons fell a little later in the sixth, bowled by Shakib Al Hasan (one for 21), who along with Sunil Narine (one for 18), unhittable in the death overs again, was the pick of the KKR bowlers.
From 35 for two, Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma took the score to 70, before Rayudu (33, 27b, 3x4, 1x6), looking the most comfortable at the crease, holed out to Suryakumar Yadav at long-on off Piyush Chawla.
Corey Anderson, desperate for a "wow" moment in IPL 2014, came in and looked quite good from the off, crushing a delightful boundary through the offside, while also smoking a big six off Chawla. The game was being setup for the final assault in the final overs with Anderson warming up, with Rohit, struggling to find the middle of the bat, also slowly getting into the groove.
That momentum could have been nipped in the bud, right after Anderson's arrival, with Pathan dropping a simple catch which would have sent Rohit back for just 11 in his 25th delivery.
That drop proved to be the difference between a really below-par score and maybe we can defend it total, though, as Rohit (51, 45b, 4x4, 2x6) took full advantage, scoring 40 off his next 21 deliveries. That knock took MI's total past 140, with Anderson (18, 12b, 1x4, 1x6) flattering to deceive yet again, falling in the 16th over to a soft dismissal, after promising so much.
In the end, however, with Uthappa in the form that he is in, it proved to be a target not enough to trouble KKR.