The Mumbai Indians did their job, beating the Delhi Daredevils comfortably to stay alive in IPL 2014, but the defending champions will be able to do nothing but sit in their hotel rooms and shake their heads wondering what might have been, if the Rajasthan Royals pick up two points of their own against the Kings XI Punjab in the late game on Friday.
MI needed a victory to stay in contention for the playoffs, and the IPL 2013 champs, despite a dramatic collapse, put the pressure on the beleaguered Daredevils with a score of 173 all out in 19.3 overs.
In reply, DD lost their way completely following the wicket of skipper Kevin Pietersen, eventually ending up on 158 for four as the crowd at the Wankhede were given plenty to cheer about.
The win takes MI to 12 points from 13 matches, level with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, but both those teams will be out of the running for a top four place if the Royals, on 14 points from 12 games, get the better of table-toppers KXIP. DD crashed to their 11th defeat in 13 games, their eighth straight, while remaining without a win since returning to India from the UAE.
DD started the chase off on a good note, with Kevin Pietersen, who has slowly -- a little too slowly for Delhi's comfort, no doubt – but surely got back into form, taking on the MI bowlers early in an attempt to set the tone.
The first five overs went for 43 runs, with Pietersen scoring 34 of those as DD looked good early on. However, it doesn't take too long for it to go pear-shaped for this DD side.
Murali Vijay was sent packing by Shreyas Gopal, who beat the former CSK man in the flight with wicketkeeper Aditya Tare doing the rest, in the sixth over.
Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik, two batsmen in decent form, needed to stay at the crease for a while together, to not put too much pressure on the middle order (read JP Duminy) but a couple of awful shots from the two experienced men put the Daredevils behind the 8-ball again.
The Daredevils skipper was the first to go with Harbhajan castling Pietersen (44, 31b, 6x4, 1x6), who missed the ball completely while going for an ill-advised switch hit – it is a great shot when it comes off, and there are very few people who play the shot better than the Englishman, but the timing of that attempt was just wrong.
Karthik (7, 13b, 1x4), the vice-captain, seeing his skipper get out to a poor shot, decided to outshine Pietersen in the what-were-you-thinking stakes by going for a lap shot off Marchant De Lange and missing the ball completely with the ball crashing into the stumps.
Yet again, the onus was on Duminy to get his team out of hot water, but those two wickets jolted DD, and the South African and Manoj Tiwary had to take their time to settle the innings down, with the equation reading a tall 69 from the final five overs.
A couple of lusty blows from Duminy (45 n.o., 29b, 4x6) and Tiwary (41, 31b, 5x4, 1x6) brought the target down to 44 from 18 deliveries, but it just proved to be too much, as MI stayed alive in the tournament.
The first innings was a tale of two stages really – the first 13 overs, when MI went hammer and tongs at the Daredevils bowlers, and the final seven, when the home side's batsmen thought they had more than one life, and getting caught out or bowled would not force them to walk back to the pavilion.
Michael Hussey and Lendl Simmons, MI's new electrifying opening partnership, got off to a scorching start again, smashing 65 runs in the first six Powerplay overs, with the Australian very much the aggressor, as Simmons, fresh from his brilliant hundred against the Kings XI Punjab, took a backseat.
The West Indian (35, 25b, 5x4) only scored 17 runs in the Powerplay, but decided to get in on the act post the first six, tonking Imran Tahir for three boundaries in the eighth over – Tahir (three for 37) would have the last laugh, however, with Simmons holing out in the deep looking for a fourth four in the over.
Simmons' opening partner Hussey was still in the mood, though, and with Rohit Sharma looking in great touch -- a couple of crunching shots through the offside worth the price of the ticket on its own -- MI looked set for a score of over 200. The duo put on 33 in four overs, taking the score to 120 for one in the 12th, before everything started to go horribly wrong.
Hussey fell in the final ball of the 12th over, falling a tad short of the crease while going for an unnecessary quick single. Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard allied for 20 runs, before both batsmen were dismissed by Jaydev Unadkat (2-0-24-2) in the 15th over, with those two wickets opening up a train of dismissals which only ended after MI ran out of batsmen.
From 140 for four, MI crashed to 173 all out in 19.3 overs, as the Mumbai Indians batsmen just kept coming in and playing their shots with the ball finding the fielders perfectly.
That almighty collapse allowed the Daredevils back into the game, with their batsmen given a chance of ending that losing streak, only to throw it away courtesy some poor shot selection.