Mumbai Indians reclaimed the top spot in the points table after thumping a hapless Pune Warriors by 21 runs in their Indian Premier League clash at Dr D Y Patil Sports Academy in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Mumbai Indians posted a challenging 160 for seven after being invited to bat as T Suman blazed his way to a 16-ball 36 and Pollard played a useful 29-run cameo towards the end to help the side recover from a sluggish start.
Backed by some disciplined bowling and inspiring fielding, Mumbai then restricted the Warriors to 139 for seven to record their seventh win in nine matches.
The Warriors slumped to seventh straight defeat and need a miracle of sorts to make the play-offs. Their last win had come on April 13 at this ground when they defeated Kochi Tuskers Kerala by four wickets.
Lasith Malinga (3/25) was the most successful bowler for Mumbai while Harbhajan Singh (1/17), Munaf Patel (1/30) and Kieron Pollard (1/36) all took one wicket a piece.
Warriors were never in the chase after losing Jesse Ryder off the very first ball of the innings from Harbhajan Singh, though Manish Pandey (59) fought a losing battle from one end.
Pandey, whose knock came off 47 balls, and Robin Uthappa (34 unbeaten off 26) were the only batsmen who resisted the formidable Mumbai attack but their effort could only reduce the defeat margin.
Pune skipper Yuvraj Singh (20) sizzled for a while, hitting two sixes and a four during his short stay at the crease, but was undone by a brilliant bouncer by Malinga and an equally good catch by Munaf in the third-man region.
Earlier, Mumbai had managed just 65 runs for two wickets after 10 overs but found an unlikely hero in Suman, who hit three sixes and as many fours to lead the fightback.
Pollard played a useful cameo (29 off 21), with two fours and as many sixes to help Mumbai go past the 150-run mark after being invited to bat.
The Pune bowlers did an exceptional job early on and leg-spinner Rahul Sharma returned incredible figures of 4-0-7-2 but the good work was undone when Suman and Pollard had their way.
Pune captain Yuvraj Singh accounted for Mumbai's most productive duo of skipper Sachin Tendulkar (24) and Ambati Rayudu (27).
As in earlier games, the opening partnership did not yield too many runs for Mumbai as the new partner for skipper Tendulkar, Australian youngster Aiden Blizzard (6) perished in the third over to leave them at 18 for one.
The left-handed batsman was caught by a diving stumper Robin Uthappa in front of the slip fielder. But Tendulkar was in very good touch as he drove and clipped Alfonso Thomas and Shrikant Wagh for three fours in the first two overs.
Once again it was left to the Tendulkar and Rayudu to forge a meaningful stand.
Rayudu hooked West Indies pacer Jerome Taylor and then glided the bowler over the head of wicketkeeper for successive fours to step up the run rate.
Tendulkar then glanced and top-edged left-arm Wagh for successive fours to help Mumbai finish the power-play with 49 on board.
One run later, the master batsman had a close shave when he was well out of the crease after setting out for a run, but Uthappa failed to hit the stumps from short square leg.
Yuvraj brought himself into the attack and struck a major blow in his second over by sending back Tendulkar, who was caught off a full blooded drive brilliantly by Jesse Ryder at short extra cover.
His partnership with Rayudu, the most successful pair for Mumbai in the tournament, realised 40 runs in 35 balls.
Yuvraj accounted for Rayudu too by having him caught at long off for 27 as Mumbai reached 69 for three from 58 for one in quick time.
Suman, surprisingly promoted ahead of both Pollard and Andrew Symonds, struck the first six of the match with a heave off Ryder over long-on.
The Hyderabad Ranjji player then off-drove Yuvraj for a four and hoisted Taylor over long-leg for his second six.
Rohit Sharma, strangely subdued at the other end, fell to the leg spin of the lanky Rahul Sharma in the next over, caught at long-on off a slog in the 15th over.
Suman continued to impress with his aggressive batting and struck Alfonso Thomas for two successive boundaries and followed it with a six over long off in the 16th over to give the much-needed thrust to the flagging innings.
Suman departed while trying to hoist Rahul over long off and was caught by Mithun Manhas.
Pollard took over the attacking reins and in one over from Thomas, the 19th of the innings, he cracked two fours and a six off the South African bowler whose analysis then read an unflattering 1 for 53.
The most impressive bowler for the Warriors was Sharma, who has had a very impressive stint in the IPL. He finished with very creditable figures of two for seven in four overs while Yuvraj Singh and Jerome Taylor picked up two wickets apiece.