Leg spinner Amit Mishra recorded the first hat-trick of the season as Deccan Chargers crushed Kings XI Punjab by 82 runs to dash their hopes of making the Indian Premier League play-offs in Dharamsala on Saturday.
Chasing 199 to win, Punjab only managed to score 116 all out in 19 overs at the pictersque HPCA stadium with captain Adam Gilchrist being the top scorer with 51.
Brought back into the attack in the 16th over, Mishra removed Ryan McLaren, Mandeep Singh and Ryan Harris off successive deliveries to record his second hat-trick in the history of the Twenty20 tournament.
Mishra has now joined Yuvraj Singh as the only player in the IPL to have recorded two hat-tricks.
Apart from these two players, Kolkata Knight Riders' Lakshmipathy Balaji, Chennai Super Kings' Makhaya Ntini and Mumbai Indians' Rohit Sharma had achieved the feat in the previous editions of the event.
After the Deccans rode on Shikhar Dhawan's unbeaten 95 and Ravi Teja's 60 to post an imposing 198 for two, Mishra took the centrestage to return with superb figures of 4-1-9-4 and spin his team to victory.
Punjab's defeat means that Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight riders now confirm berths in the play-offs.
Mishra bowled a googly to McLaren, who tried to clear the fence but in the end only found Daniel Christian latching on to the ball at deep midwicket to complete a good low catch.
Mandeep Singh was stumped by Kedar Devdhar in his bid to accelerate the scoring.
Harris was caught by Shikhar Dhawan at second slip, as the googly by Mishra bounced extra from outside off and took the Punjab batsman by surprise who tried to cut the ball towards point.
Chasing a daunting target, Punjab skipper Gilchrist cashed in on a dropped chance to notch up his second fifty this IPL season. His aggressive 37-ball knock consisted of two sixes and six fours.
In a surprise move by skipper Cameron White, South African recruit Jean-Paul Duminy opened the bowling for Deccan in their last game of the season 4.
Duminy bowled a tight over barring a last-ball boundary scored by Gilchrist.
Valthaty (5), one of the finds of this IPL season and Punjab's leading run-scorer behind Australian Shaun Marsh, failed to fire in the crunch game and was dismissed by pacer Dale Steyn in his first over.
Steyn hurled a fuller delivery on the middle stump line which landed around leg and middle and curved towards middle. Valthaty, in his bid to clear the ball, gave a simple catch to Anand Rajan at mid-on.
Marsh (13), Punjab's most consistent top-order batsman, started the chase on a confident note and carved Duminy to two consecutive fours in the third over.
But Duminy had the last laugh as he dismissed the dangerous looking Marsh on the last ball of his third over to leave the Punjab tottering at 22 for two.
Steyn bowled a tight next over and Punjab started to feel the heat. On the last ball of the over, Gilchrist mistimed a fuller delivery by Steyn, who got both hands to it but the ball slipped through the palms.
The Punjab skipper smashed the right-arm medium Rajan for a six and a four in the fifth over to put the chase back on track.
Pragyan Ojha was also meted out with the same treatment as next-man in Dinesh Karthik hit him for two fours.
Gilchrist and Karthik mixed caution with aggression as barring occasional boundaries, both played sensibly and looked for right balls to hit.
Punjab suffered a huge blow in the 11th over as Gilchrist departed soon after completing his fifty. He was caught at extra cover by White off Christian.
In the same over, their in-form batsman Karthik was caught by Ravi Teja off Christian at the deep point boundary.
Next-man in Abhishek Nayar (3) too followed suit as he departed in quick succession without troubling the scorers much.
At 91 for 5, Punjab's hopes of reaching the last-four stage started to fade away and Mishra planted the last nail in the home team's coffin, with his second hat-trick of the IPL.
Earlier, after being sent into bat, opener Dhawan added 131-run in only 13.2 overs for the first wicket with Teja to lay the foundation for an imposing total.
Dhawan's whirlwind knock, his highest score in IPL, came off just 57 balls and was adorned with one six and 14 fours. The partnership was the highest for Chargers this IPL season for any wicket.
The Deccan 's downfall this season can be attributed to their poor show with the bat. Such has been their plight that the previous best this season was 92-run stand between Kumar Sangakkara and Sunny Sohal for the second wicket.
Chargers got off to a solid start with Teja and Dhawan adding 58 runs in the first six overs, much to the delight of stand-in skipper Cameron White, who is donning the captain's hat in the absence of regular skipper Sangakkara.
Teja cashed in on three dropped chances to notch up his highest-ever IPL score.
Punjab, for the first four overs managed to keep the Deccan openers quiet with occassional boundaries, but Dhawan broke the deadlock in the fifth over bowled by Praveen to hit him for successive boundaries.
Dhawan then hit Harris for couple of fours in the next over to take the team's total past 50-run mark.
Teja soon followed suit and hit leg-spinner Chawla for two boundaries in his first over to put Chargers on top before the first strategic time out in their last league game of the season 4.
Both the openers were on song and reduced Punjab bowlers to mere pedestrians with their brutal hitting. Teja was more attacking of the two as he hit Ryan McLaren for three fours in the 11th over to bring up the 100 for the Chargers.
In the 13th over, he hit Chawla for two consecutive sixes and a four to bring his 50.
In the end, Valthaty got the prized wicket of Teja, who was caught by Abhishek Nayar at deep midwicket.
Next-man in, Jean-Paul Duminy (15) then joined forces with Dhawan and took the team total past 150-run mark. Dhawan continued with his attacking streak and treated the Punjab spin duo of Chawla and Bhatt with disdain, clobbering them for fours and sixes.
Duminy was caught by Shaun Marsh off Ryan Harris at mid-off in his bid to clear the ball.
Dhawan and skipper White (15) then took the total near200-run mark.