Kings XI Punjab, the finalists from last season, are as good as out of contention for the IPL 2015 playoffs after another listless batting performance saw them lose to the Mumbai Indians in Mohali.
Eight wins is usually the minimum required for a place in the top four, and with the Kings XI suffering their seventh defeat in nine matches, it looks like curtains for the team from Punjab as far as the business end of the season this year is concerned.
Such a pity too, as they were the most entertaining team last year, but this season the batting just hasn't clicked, and click it did not again while chasing 173, after MI finished on 172/3 in their 20 overs.
Virender Sehwag continues to look like a ghost's ghost version of his old self, with the opener again falling early, all too predictably to Mitchell McClenaghan, before Glenn Maxwell, back into the side and sent in at No.3, failed to produce his pyrotechnics again, with the reverse-sweep, his go-to shot, proving to be his end.
Murali Vijay continued to flatter to deceive as well, eating up way too many dot balls in his 34-ball 39 (3x4, 1x6), leaving it all for David Miller (43, 37b, 3x4, 1x6) and George Bailey (21, 18b, 1x4) to do.
But, with the yorker-machine Lasith Malinga bowling three of the final six overs, and with Kings XI needing over 11 runs an over, it was game over as Mumbai Indians kept their own playoff hopes very much alive with a third consecutive win by keeping KXIP to 149 for seven in their 20 overs.
Earlier, MI had a brilliant opening partnership between Parthiv Patel (59, 36b, 5x4, 3x6) and Lendl Simmons (71, 56b, 9x4, 1x6) to thank for them getting to a biggish total, with the duo putting on 111 in 12.2 overs for the opening wicket.
That platform looked like the one needed for MI to do their usual tonking in the final five overs, where runs in excess of 60 has been the norm rather than the exception. However, the KXIP bowlers did exceptionally well to pull things back in the slog overs, with Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard not quite able to find their six-hitting zone.
However, that opening partnership ensured MI would get to a total above the 160-170-run mark, which, the way the Kings XI are batting, proved to be enough and more.
Kings XI, with the loss, remain bottom with just four points in nine games, while the Mumbai Indians are now in a three-way tie with Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, who play Rajasthan Royals in the IPL's 500th match later on, on eight points, just a point behind third and fourth-placed RCB and KKR.