MOHALI - There was subtlety, decisiveness, power and timing in varying measures. There was authority in seizing a chase by the scruff of its neck. But most of all, there was the inevitable feeling that Lendl Simmons had just done to Kings XI Punjab what they had been routinely dishing out to opponents for much of Pepsi IPL 2014.

Simmons stroked and battered his way to the first century of the tournament, making sure that Mumbai Indians continued to keep their slender hopes of making the playoffs alive on Wednesday.

The Mumbai bowlers had begun the fightback, and Simmons then reduced the match to a no-contest with 100 not out off 61 balls. A packed and boisterous crowd had filled the PCA Stadium in Mohali, drawn in by the expectation that Punjab would make a winning debut on their home ground in what has been a spectacular season, but had to leave disappointed after Mumbai eased to a seven-wicket win in 19 overs, giving a boost to their net run-rate to leapfrog into the fifth position on the points table.

Put in, Punjab’s innings seemed headed for the normal 180-plus batting slugfest, but the Mumbai bowlers did admirably to rein the batsmen in, varying the pace skilfully on a good track to restrict the table toppers to 156 for 8. Simmons then provided the main fireworks, treating the Punjab bowlers with scant respect as Mumbai scaled down the target.

Simmons used a mixture of power and timing, and the placement of his shots was spot on. He was sure-footed when stepping out and in control when giving himself room, creating and exploiting gaps in wide arcs square of the wicket on either side. Simmons faced the lion’s share of the strike in a 68-run opening stand with Michael Hussey that came off just seven overs, Simmons having raised his half-century within the Power Play overs off just 27 balls. He had begun with three boundaries in the first over off Sandeep Sharma, and carried on in the same vein. The end of the fielding restrictions made no difference to his scoring rate. The advantage of the early assault was that the target – not formidable to begin with – seemed that much easier to get and consequently put Punjab’s bowlers under pressure. This wasn’t a surface that provided too much margin for error, and where Mumbai’s bowlers had neutralised the opponents’ power hitters, Punjab’s bowlers had the pressure of a middling target to defend.

The opening stand was followed by a 43-run association for the second wicket with Ambati Rayudu, the runs continuing to come at good clip.

When Rayudu fell, Mumbai were 111 for 2, and needed 46 off 49 balls.

Simmons raised his century off 61 balls, drawing applause from the partisan crowd for what had been a superb exhibition of controlled demolition and a bear-hug from Kieron Pollard, his West Indian teammate, who had come in when Rohit Sharma fell with Mumbai in sight of victory. A ball later, Pollard smashed Shivam Sharma over long-on for the winning runs.

Simmons had almost made what had gone before irrelevant, but it was the bowlers who provided the base for a pressure-free chase to begin with.

Punjab’s innings began with Virender Sehwag smashing a four and a six off the first two balls, but a suicidal call for a single in the third over resulted in his exit, Praveen Kumar effecting a run out after getting to the ball on his follow through. Praveen, playing for an indisposed Harbhajan Singh, had conceded 10 runs in his first two balls, but would give only 10 more in his next 3.4 overs.

While Praveen kept his end tight, Punjab continued to gallop. The talented Manan Vohra (36 off 34) went for his shots as did Shaun Marsh (30 off 17), who has had an excellent run for Punjab since topping the run charts in 2008. Marsh replaced David Miller in the line-up, and took Glenn Maxwell’s No. 3 spot in the batting order.

Marsh kept the runs coming, and Punjab were going at over 9 per over, when he fell to Krishmar Santokie. In the next over, Shreyas Gopal, who had come in for a bit of stick early on, turned the innings decisively with the wickets of Vohra and Maxwell. Vohra was castled while going for a heave, while Maxwell was too early into his shot to pop a return catch. From 87 for 1 in the 10th over, Punjab were 93 for 4 in 11 overs, and from there it was an uphill battle.

Santokie and Jasprite Bumrah bowled an assortment of slower balls to deny the batsmen pace, and while George Bailey (39 off 30) hit out at the end, all it did was give Punjab a reasonable total. Eventually, it proved to be just enough to allow Simmons to get to a deserved landmark.

Uthappa made 67 off 39 and middled the ball consistently on a pitch where most batsmen had to rely on muscling it. Both sides had wanted to chase on the untested surface in Eden Gardens' first match of the tournament, and Super Kings were to find out that despite the green tinge, the ball wasn't quite coming on, and there was some help for the spinners as well.

Super Kings went below run a ball for almost two-thirds of their innings. In contrast, Uthappa began with a flurry of boundaries. He eased the first ball of the innings from Ben Hilfenhaus between extra cover and mid off for four and also clipped the fifth through square leg for four more. The two shots were to bring him plenty of runs through his innings. He also deftly guided deliveries past slip, and resorted to the slog-sweep as his innings progressed.

In his eagerness to drive, Uthappa offered two chances to slip early on, and Super Kings reprieved him each time. First, R Ashwin dropped him on 6 off Hilfenhaus in the first over. MS Dhoni immediately replaced Ashwin with Suresh Raina in that position. In the third over, Raina let a harder, diving chance off Mohit Sharma go down, with Uthappa on 24. By the time Uthappa timed a lofted drive off Ravindra Jadeja to wide long-off in the 12th over, Knight Riders had almost reached 100. In his previous seven innings now, Uthappa's lowest score has been 40.

Knight Riders needed 57 off 50 when Uthappa fell. Manish Pandey struggled to get going but Shakib more than made up with some powerful hitting. Slogging, paddling and lofting his way to eight boundaries in 21 balls, Shakib shut the door firmly on Super Kings.

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Shakib had opened the bowling and had contributed in tying down the Super Kings top order. At the other end, Pat Cummins bowled Dwayne Smith with his second ball on IPL debut. The pace of Umesh Yadav and the spin of Sunil Narine was as hard to get away.

Raina took nine deliveries to get off the mark in a slow 55-run partnership with Brendon McCullum but accelerated later to make 65 off 52. Shakib could have had Raina on 16, but Yusuf Pathan dropped a difficult chance diving at the straight boundary in the eighth over. Raina opened up against Piyush Chawla, hitting him for three sixes but his attempt to clear long-on in the 18th over failed. Raina's effort enabled Super Kings to go past 150, but it was quite insufficient against Uthappa and Shakib.

Scoreboard

PUNJAB:

V Sehwag run out    17

M Vohra b Gopal    36

S Marsh c Pollard b Santokie    30

G Maxwell c & b Gopal    2

G Bailey c Rayudu b Bumrah    39

W Saha run out    3

A Patel c Sharma b Kumar    6

R Dhawan not out    14

B Hendricks b Bumrah    0

Shivam Sharma not out    1

EXTRAS: (lb5, w3)    8

TOTAL: (8 wkts; 20 overs)    156

FOW: 1-23, 2-87, 3-92, 4-93, 5-105, 6-116, 7-154, 8-155

BOWLING: P Kumar 4-0-20-1, K Santokie 4-0-40-1, J Bumrah 4-0-31-2, P Ojha 4-0-28-0, S Gopal 4-0-32-2

MUMBAI:

L Simmons not out    100

M Hussey b Patel    6

A Rayudu c Sehwag b Dhawan    17

R Sharma c Sandeep b Hendricks    18

K Pollard not out    8

EXTRAS: (w10)    10

TOTAL: (3 wkts; 19 overs)    159

FOW: 1-68, 2-111, 3-148

BOWLING: Sandeep Sharma 3-0-37-0, B Hendricks 4-0-33-1, A Patel 4-0-27-1, R Dhawan 4-0-30-1, Shivam Sharma 4-0-32-0

TOSS: Mumbai

UMPIRES: H Dharmasena (SL), V Kulkarni

TV UMPIRE: P Pathak

MATCH REFEREE: R Mahanama (SL)