A 127-run opening partnership between Sachin Tendulkar (68) and Sanath Jayasuriya (52), followed by splendid bowling by Lasith Malinga (three for 11) and Abhishek Nayar (three for 13), helped Mumbai Indians trounce Kolkata Knight Riders by 92 runs in the Indian Premier League match in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Chasing an improbable 188 to win, Knight Riders crashed to 95 for nine and suffered their worst defeat in the second edition of the league.
Mumbai, with just one win (over Chennai) from three matches, came into the match with a point to prove and succeeded in their endeavour to a large extent, securing their second win in the bargain.
Knight Riders, lacklustre in every department, have a solitary win from five matches.
Tendulkar called correctly and had no hesitation in opting to bat first. The Mumbai Indians captain had a lot of problems to start with though. Their batting, though strong on paper, was yet to translate promise into performance. And their famed opening pair had had contrasting records, albeit with a tinge of negativity.
While Jayasuriya had so far been a disappointment, and that is putting it mildly, the captain himself had succeeded in getting starts but failed to convert them into something big.
When Ishant Sharma was as parsimonious as possible within the T20 ambit, it seemed Mumbai would again flatter to deceive. However, Tendulkar had other plans in mind, not wanting to let yet another opportunity slip. He cut Ashok Dinda's first ball over the backward point for the maximum and followed it up by guiding the ball to square leg fence three balls later.
Tendulkar had made his intentions clear.
A boundary each off Ishant and Dinda, both towards point, was followed by dispatching a ball by the former over the midwicket fence for the maximum.
Jayasuriya had so far been a mute spectator to Tendulkar's blitzkrieg. But with the introduction of Sourav Ganguly into the attack, the Sri Lankan started talking, with his bat.
Successive deliveries from Ganguly were pulled over deep backward square leg and midwicket, the result being the maximum in both cases.
And even as the field restrictions eased, there was hardly any respite for Kolkata captain Brendon McCullum.
Mumbai had reached 61 without loss in six overs, their best so far in the tournament at that stage.
Ajantha Mendis was brought into the attack and Tendulkar conveniently dispatched his fifth ball over the midwicket fence.
The introduction of Chris Gayle from the other end brought no succour either, Jayasuriya pulling him over fine leg for the maximum and Tendulkar directing his final ball to the third man boundary.
McCullum had made three bowling changes in three successive overs and his bowlers cost him 41 runs.
Mendis's second over added to his woes.
If the Sri Lankan mystery spinner had conceded 11, in his second he went for 17, Jayasuriya smashing him over long-off for the maximum and Tendulkar getting as much runs over midwicket two balls later.
The latter shot helped the Mumbai captain complete his half-century, his first in this tournament.
Mumbai Indians went into the strategic time out firmly in the driver's seat at 111 without loss, with Tendulkar on unbeaten on 60 and Jayasuriya giving him company on 43.
It was Mumbai's best start in the tournament and the Kolkata think- tank had been forced to rethink their options.
Soon after the restart, Jayasuriya brought about his first half century of the tournament with a couple of Brad Hodge.
But the introduction of Hodge and Laxmi Ratan Shukla had somewhat restricted the free flow of runs -- four overs yielding just 20 runs to be precise.
And whenever the runs dry up, a wicket falls.
In this case it was Tendulkar, getting caught on the wrong foot off Shukla.
127 for one, after 12.2 overs.
The Master Blaster made 68 off just 45 balls (6x4, 4x6) but, more importantly, ensured Mumbai would retain their advantage going into the Kolkata innings.
The Mumbai Indians think tank promoted Harbhajan Singh (18/8) up the order and he rewarded them by smashing successive sixes of Hodge, the first over long-off and the second over midwicket.
But Hodge had the last word, having Harbbhajan caught at deep midwicket by Mendis in the same over.
Jayasuriya left in the next over, spooning a catch to debutant Arindam Ghosh at point, Shukla adding another wicket to his kitty.
And when Abhishek Nayar (3/3) was run-out three balls later, Mumbai Indians, for the first time in the match, were on the back foot at 155 for four after 16 overs.
Shukla also accounted for Dwayne Bravo (3/5), caught by Gayle at square leg, to finish with figures of three for 25.
Ishant made Shikar Dhawan (12/10) edge one to McCullum, as Mumbai, in their bid to accelerate seemed to lose the plot somewhere.
Their final total of 187 was a disappointment. But Kolkata, to their credit, had pulled back commendably after the break.
Nonetheless, the early blitzkrieg had ensured Mumbai posted the highest ever total in a T20 game at ST George's Park.
Knight Riders' reply began in disastrous fashion, both their openers back in the pavilion after just three overs.
Captain McCullum (1/6), who has struggled so far with the bat, was the first to go, in the second over, hitting a Lasith Malinga delivery straight to JP Duminy at point.
Gayle (12/11) followed him in the next over. The West Indies captain smashed countryman Bravo's first ball over the midwicket fence for the maximum before pushing the last to Tendulkar at slips.
Gayle had a role in Bravo's dismissal and the latter came back to return the compliment.
Knight Riders were in trouble at 17 for two and they pinned their hopes on former skipper Ganguly.
The 36-year-old left-hander didn't disappoint. He smashed Bravo to the off-side fence and lofted the next ball over the midwicket fence for the maximum to start the counterattack.
Bravo's second over yielded 15 and Knight Riders were back on track.
The impact was immediate. Tendulkar was forced to bring on Harbhajan inside the Powerplay.
However, the move backfired as Ganguly hit the off-spinner for successive boundaries, both through the covers.
Ganguly and Hodge ensured Knight Riders went into the strategic time-out without any further loss (@ 70 for two).
But Nayar, introduced just before the break, struck in his second over, cleaning up Hodge (24/22), the Australian paying the price for being extravagant.
The wicket marked the onset of the Knight Riders' decline.
Nayar made a double breakthrough in his next over, having the dangerous Ganguly (34/30) caught by Bravo at covers off the first ball, and two balls later, making debutant Arindam Ghosh (0) flick one to Tendulkar at short midwicket.
Bravo had Yashpal Singh (8/8) caught behind in the next over and when Shukla (6/10) was caught by Jayasuriya at long-on, off Zaheer, the end was obvious.
Knight Riders were tottering at 95 for seven after 15 overs, staring at defeat.
Malinga cleaned up Mendis (0) and Dinda (0) in the next two balls and it was all over.
Anureet Singh did not bat.