Mumbai Indians thrashed Delhi Daredevils by 39 runs in their Indian Premier League match, at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday, to continue their impressive run in the third edition of the tournament.
Chasing an imposing target, the visitors could muster just 144 for seven in their stipulated 20 overs, in a what can be termed as a lacklustre batting effort.
It was Mumbai Indians' second successive win over Delhi Daredevils in this campaign -- having thrashed them by 98 runs at the Ferozeshah Kotla earlier.
The result, their sixth win when batting first in this edition, brought their head-to-head record against the Delhi team to three wins apiece.
The victory, their ninth in 12 matches, bolstered Mumbai Indians' points tally up to 18 and they look set to finish on top of the league table.
It was the Daredevils' sixth defeat in 12 matches and their third in succession.
The Gautam Gambhir-led side remain on 12 points - in third place. With two games left to play, they are still in line for a last four berth. The only glitch being both those matches are against teams who are themselves vying for a last four berth - Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers respectively.
Coming to the match per se, Delhi's batting collapse - after a solid start - was something inexplicale.
From 69 for one after the sixth over, they slumped to their eventual total, managing just 75 runs in their last 14 overs.
David Warner (31) started Delhi's chase in emphatic manner, smashing Zaheer Khan wide of mid-off for a boundary in the first over.
The Australian was severe in Zaheer's second over, smashing successive boundaries -- the first a pull over short fine leg and the second past mid-on -- before smashing the third one stright into the sightscreen for maximum.
Warner continued his onslaught by smashing Dilhara Fernando for two boundaries in three balls before Ali Murtaza took a superb catch at mid-off to curtail his onslaught and give the Sri Lankan his first wicket in the tournament.
The Australian's 15-ball blitzkrieg comprised five hits to the fence and a huge one over it.
Three balls later, however, Murtaza dropped Virender Sehwag (20) -- when the batsman was on nine -- in the same area.
It was the second reprieve for Sehwag, having already seen the ball drop just in front of Murtaza in Fernando's first over.
Harbhajan Singh was introduced early in the fifth over in a bid to cut the pace off the ball but both Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (17) helped themseleves with a boundary apiece.
As the field restrictions eased -- after six overs -- Delhi Daredevils were comfortably-placed at 69 for one - their best score at that stage in this tournament, surpassing their 64 for two againt Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Gambhir survived in the sixth over -- by Dwayne Bravo -- when Kieron Pollard failed to latch on to a difficult chance at mid-on.
But Delhi captain failed to make the most of the opportunity, hitting straight back to Harbhajan in the next over.
And when Sehwag was run-out in the eighth, it seemed an uphill task ahead for the visitors.
They componded the misery by losing three wickets in a canter thereafter.
AB de Villers (4) was trapped in front by Murtaza in the 10th over and Paul Collingwood (2) was run out by Pollard on his follow through in the next over.
And when Murtaza cleaned up Dinesh Karthik (11) in the 12th over, the result seemed inevitable.
Murtaza, playing his first match, was the best bowler for Mumbai Indians with figures of two for 18.
Amit Mishra (12) hung around for 17 balls before being cleaned up by Fernando.
When Andrew McDonald (33 not out), the highest contributor for Delhi, smashed Bravo for a maximum in the final over, it marked the first boundary since the sixth over -- 81 balls to be precise.
And, palpably, it was too little, too late.
Earlier, a late blast by Kieron Pollard helped Mumbai Indians to a formidable total.
The home team, after a slow start, eventually made 183 for four in their stipulated 20 overs.
The Mumbai Indians' batsmen struggled to break the shackles against some steady bowling early on till a late blast by Pollard helped them up the ante in the final few overs.
The hosts scored 75 runs in their last five overs, and 50 from the last three to consolidate their total.
Pollard, snapped up for a record price in the third auction earlier this year, finally proved his worth with some lusty hits towards the end.
His unbeaten 45 wasn't only the highest individual contrubution in the Mumbai Indian innings but also the most significant one.
His 13-ball effort was inclusive off two hits to the fence and five huge ones over it.
The West Indies all-rounder was involved in an unbroken 50-run fifth-wicket partnership with JP Duminy (21 not out) that came off the final three overs and was by far the best stand in the MI innings.
The home team made a sedate start and their scoring rate dropped considerable before the some urgent repair work was done towards the end.
Stumper Chandan Madan (15), playing in his first game, began proceedings with a couple of boundaries in the first over by Ashish Nehra.
Sachin Tendulkar (30) joined the party with a couple of boundaries, in the process overtaking Jacques Kallis in the race for the Orange Cap - as the tournament's highest scorer.
But the introduction of Andrew McDonald into the attack in the sixth over ensured a wicket in the third ball, Madan edging to Amit Mishra at short fine.
The hosts were comfortably placed at 64 for one heading into the first strategic time-out - taken after nine overs.
But in the third ball after resumption, Pradeep Sangwan struck, having Tendulkar caught by AB de Villiers at extra cover.
The Mumbai skipper's 26-ball stay was a quiet one by his standards and it consisited of just three hits to the fence.
It was a soft dismissal and one that came at a wrong time as the scoring rate of Mumbai had been on a steady decline since the fifth over, with the ball finding its way to the fence just once.
And after 10 overs, the hosts were 66 for two - their lowest score at that stage in the tournament.
When Ambati Rayudu (24) smashed McDonald straight over long-on it was the first boundary in 28 balls - a stark explanation of how the Delhi bowlers had tied down the Mumbai batsmen.
But the next didn't take long - Saurabh Tiwary (38) smashing Paul Collingwood over midwicket in the next over for the first maximum of the innings.
The left-hander repeated the feat off Sangwan in the next over, again over midwicket and followed it up with a boundary over extra cover.
But the bowler had the last laugh, cutting down the pace considerably and reaping immediate benefits - as Tiwary witnessed his stumps rattled.
Rayudu survived in Collingwood's next over, when Dinesh Karthik failed to latch on to a thick edge. Mumbai had made just 108 in 15 overs.
But JP Duminy hit three boundaries off Mishra in the 16th over to ease the pressure.
Rayudu smashed Ashish Nehra wide of long-off for what was just his second boundary in the next over but holed out to de Villiers at long-on four balls later, to gift the bowler his first wicket in this edition.
Sarabjeet Ladda was surprisingly introduced into the attack in the 18th over and he induced a thick edge off Kieron Pollard only for Karthik to fumble again.
The ball found its way to the fence and the batsman celebrated the reprieve by smashing the ball over long-off for a maximum. Ladda's only over cost Delhi 14 runs and his selection was not justified.
Five balls later, the big West Indies all-rounder scooped over the wicketkeeper's head for another maximum.
The final over off McDonald yielded Mumbai 25 runs, all but one from Pollard's blade.
The 22-year-old Caribbean smashed three sixes and a boundary to give the Mumbai innings the fillip it desperately required.
Earlier, Mumbai Indians' captain Sachin Tendulkar won the toss and opted to bat first.
"I think as the time goes by the wicket will slow down a bit and will help spinners," reasoned Tendulkar, refusing his team will allow any room for complacency having already made it to the last four.
"We want to continue winning and in this format you cannot take things for granted," he added.
His opposite number, Gautam Gambhir, rued losing the toss.
"I should have also batted first," he lamented, adding, "But it looks like a typical CCI wicket, with a lot of runs. Hopefully we can turn things around."
Alas! it wasn't to be.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (captain), Ambati Rayudu, Saurabh Tiwary, JP Duminy, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Chandan Madan, Harbhajan Singh, Ali Murtuza, Zaheer Khan, Dilhara Fernando.
Delhi Daredevils: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Virender Sehwag, David Warner, AB de Villers, P Collingwood, Andrew McDonald, Dinesh Karthik, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Sarabjeet Ladda, Pradeep Sangwan.