Despite resting several of their top players, Mumbai Indians managed to outclass Kolkata Knight Riders by nine runs in their last round league match to finish top of the standings in the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League, in Kolkata, on Saturday.
Chasing 174 to win, KKR were restricted to 164 for eight Mumbai Indians, who dished out a disciplined bowling effort at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Mumbai topped the points table in IPL-10 with 10 wins from 14 games. KKR missed out the chance to finish among the top two teams as they finished third after managing eight wins in the league stages.
Mumbai have made it to Qualifier 1 match to be played in Mumbai on May 16, where they will play the second-placed team in the league standings with the winner going straight through to the final.
However, KKR also managed to qualify for the play-offs but they will play the Eliminator match which will see the third and fourth placed teams play each other. The winner of the Eliminator match will take on the loser of the Qualifier 2 match to decide the second finalist.
Rising Pune Supergiant (16 points) will take on Kings XI Punjab (14) on Sunday to decide the fourth and final team to make it to the play-offs.
Manish Pandey (33) was the top-scorer for KKR but the hosts kept losing wickets at regular intervals to suffer their sixth defeat in the tournament.
In reply, Chris Lynn (26 from 14 balls) kept KKR in the hunt as he alongwith Gautam Gambhir (21) added a quick 41 runs from 23 balls before Kolkata once again lost the momentum with three wickets in 11 balls.
Pandey kept Kolkata in the hunt as he stitched 34 off 16 with Yusuf Pathan, who looked explosive in a seven-ball 20, laced with three sixes, before being dismissed by Vinay Kumar.
Colin de Grandhomme hit a quickfire 29 to keep KKR going in the middle overs before he was cleaned up by Hardik Pandya off an inside edge.
Dropped on 30, Pandey finally was dismissed by Hardik who finished with two for 18 to pave the way for Mumbai's victory.
Vinay Kumar and Southee also bagged two wickets each as they put up a fine bowling show to return to winning ways and top the table with 20 points.
Having lost four matches in their last five, it will be a cause of concern for KKR as their batting once again choked.
It was some exceptional display of pace bowling from Mumbai new ball bowlers, Southee and Johnson up front to foil Knight Riders' ploy to go for an attacking start in Narine and Lynn.
Southee dismissed Narine for a duck in the first over of the innings and the hosts never managed to stitch together a partnership, losing wickets at regular intervals throughout their innings.
Earlier, Mumbai Indians tested their bench with much aplomb as Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary slammed half-centuries to lift them to a healthy 173 for five.
Making his debut for Mumbai Indians, Tiwary seized the opportunity with a glittering 43-ball 52 while Rayudu who made a comeback after more than a month was Mumbai's top-scorer with a spectacular 63 from 37 balls.
For KKR, Trent Boult (2/30) took two wickets, while Ankit Rajpoot (1/14) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/25) took one wicket each after skipper Gautam Gambhir won the toss and elected to bowl in the match which was delayed due to rain and thunderstorm.
Ruled out after a groin injury in their first match in Pune, a fit-again Rayudu made full use of his reprieve by wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa on 10 to notch up a half-century in 32 balls.
Rayudu looked in ominous form and hammered sixes against KKR pace duo of Trent Boult and Umesh Yadav. His partnership with Tiwary was worth 61 runs from 46 balls before the latter was runout following a lack of communication.
But Rayudu ensured that they keep the run-rate ticking with his counter-attacking innings against the KKR pacers who started off well.
Rayudu hit Kuldeep Yadav for successive boundary and a six before being brilliantly stumped in the penultimate over.
KKR bowling once again faltered at the death as they conceded 55 runs in the last five overs.
In the middle overs, Ankit Rajpoot bowled a brilliant 3-0-14-1 and removed a dangerous looking Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma (27).
Kiwi pacer Boult fired in a superb first over and made the ball do the talking with excellent swing and bounce. Not only Boult troubled Tiwary but Windies explosive batsman Lendl Simmons looked clueless and survived a big appeal in an over where he conceded just two runs.
The pitch looked to have some fizz and Boult made full use of it as he finally got the wicket of Simmons in his next over, who was dismissed for a duck.
But it did not matter much for Mumbai as skipper Sharma promoted himself to number three and looked in his elements at his favourite venue where he had scored an ODI world record innings of 264.
Sharma took the attack on to KKR camp especially against India pacer Umesh Yadav, smashing him for two exquisite boundaries and a six in his next over in an effortless display.
Tiwary, who played for Rising Pune Supergiant last season, complemented well as he along with Sharma put on 50 runs in 30 balls.
The duo looked in good touch but Gambhir's move to bring in unheralded Ankit Rajpoot did the trick as the bowler trapped Sharma in the second ball to break the partnership.
Having already made the play-offs, Mumbai had the luxury to test their bench strength and Rohit Sharma rung in as many as six changes including Tiwary and R Vinay Kumar who played their first match this season.
Earlier the match began after a 30-minute delay as rain accompanied by thunderstorm lashed the city for more than half an hour around 4pm.