CUTTACK - Three days ago, when Kolkata Knight Riders played at the Barabati Stadium, they were the away team and the stands were awash in the silver and red of Kings XI Punjab. Today, there was a sea change as the stadium was purple and gold, and Knight Riders were the home team, but there was little difference in the pattern the match followed.
Three days ago, Kings XI were throttled by Knight Riders' bowlers for 140-odd before Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir set the base for a comfortable chase. Today, Mumbai Indians were throttled by Knight Riders' bowlers for 140-odd before Uthappa and Gambhir set the base for a comfortable chase.
It was a tricky surface to bat on, with the spinners getting some bite, and the ball routinely staying low. Knight Riders got their strategy right for this pitch, by bringing in Shakib Al Hasan at the expense of Jacques Kallis to strengthen a spin department that already had Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla.
All three played their part: Shakib choked the runs and planted doubts with a grubber that dismissed opener Lendl Simmons, Chawla broke the stand between Mumbai's main Indian batsmen, Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma, before Narine does what he unfailingly does in virtually every game - be unhittable in the death.
Rohit struggled early on but capitalised on a sitter put down by Yusuf Pathan to go on to a half-century. But even with a middle-order line-up reading Rohit, Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, only three out of the final ten overs went for more than eight runs. Yet again, Mumbai struggled to make the best use of their biggest hitter, Pollard, who came in as late as the 17th over, and was tied down by the spinners.
Mumbai needed early wickets if they were to make a game of this, but Gambhir and Uthappa put on their fourth successive half-century partnership for the opening wicket. Though Gambhir inside-edged onto the stumps for 14, Uthappa went on make his highest score in the IPL to ensure the game didn't slip away. On a track where no other batsman looked comfortable, Uthappa timed the ball superbly as he extended his rich vein of form.
Once again, the lack of depth in Mumbai's bowling was exposed. Harbhajan Singh gave Mumbai a whiff of a chance by dismissing Manish Pandey in the 15th over, but instead of going for the kill, Mumbai had to turn to Simmons' dibbly-dobblies. Uthappa caned them for a couple of sixes to drain away the last of Mumbai's hopes, not just for the game but almost certainly for the season as well. Even winning their remaining four matches is unlikely to be enough for Mumbai to reach the playoffs.

POINT TABLE

Teams    Mat    Won    Lost    Pts    Net RR
Punjab    10    8    2    16    +1.015
Chennai    10    8    2    16    +0.565
Rajasthan    10    6    4    12    +0.206
Kolkata    10    5    5    10    +0.063
Hyderabad    10    4    6    8    -0.325
Bangalore    10    4    6    8    -0.327
Mumbai    10    3    7    6    -0.369
Delhi    10    2    8    4    -0.939

Scoreboard

MUMBAI:
L Simmons b Shakib    12
C Gautam c S Yadav b Morkel    8
A Rayudu c S Yadav b Chawla     33
R Sharma b Narine    51
C Anderson c Chawla b Morkel    18
K Pollard not out    10
A Tare not out    2
EXTRAS: (lb1, w5, nb1)    7
TOTAL: (5 wkts; 20 overs)    141
FOW: 1-12, 2-35, 3-70, 4-115, 5-138
BOWLING: M Morkel 4-0-35-2, U Yadav 3-0-24-0, Shakib Al Hasan 4-0-21-1, S Narine 4-0-18-1, P Chawla 4-0-32-1, Y Pathan 1-0-10-0
KOLKATA:
R Uthappa b Simmons    80
G Gambhir b Harbhajan    14
M Pandey b Harbhajan    14
Y Pathan not out    20
Shakib Al Hasan c Rayudu b Malinga    9
R ten Doeschate not out    0
EXTRAS: (lb1, w4)    5
TOTAL: (4 wkts; 18.4 overs)    142
FOW: 1-50, 2-96, 3-116, 4-138
BOWLING: S Malinga 3.4-0-30-1, J Bumrah 3-0-23-0, Harbhajan Singh 4-0-22-2, P Ojha 4-0-25-0, L Simmons 3-0-34-1, K Pollard 1-0-7-0
TOSS: Kolkata