Mumbai: Ambati Rayudu cracked an unbeaten 29-ball 55 as table-toppers Mumbai Indians put up a sterling all-round performance to virtually seal a semifinal berth beating holders Deccan Chargers by 63 runs in their Indian Premier League match on Saturday.
Opting to bat, Mumbai Indians piled up a challenging 178 for five, thanks to Rayudu and youngster Saurabh Tiwary who made a 44 off 35 balls at the floodlit Brabourne Stadium.
The hosts then skittled out the Adam Gilchrist-led side for 115 in 18.2 overs, with left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan (2/10), Harbhajan Singh (2/16), Kieron Pollard (2/26) and Ryan McLaren (2/28) claiming two wickets apiece.
It was fifth straight defeat for the visiting team whose semifinal hopes receded further after this loss - their fifth in eight matches. The hosts, on the other hand, is almost through to the last-four with 14 points from eight games.
Chasing a challenging 179-run target, the defending champions simply caved in by losing wickets at regular intervals as the hosts registered their sixth straight win in the tournament.
Big overseas guns of Chargers -- Gilchrist (19), Herschelle Gibbs (17) as well as Andrew Symonds (21) failed to fire once again while VVS Laxman (4) and Rohit Sharma (5) too flopped.
The home team bowlers stuck to their game plan and were backed up splendidly by their fielders.
Mumbai Indians A Rayudu plays a shot during the IPL3 match against Deccan Chargers at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. Shirish Shete/PTI
Zaheer fired out Gilchrist and Gibbs, Laxman was run out, Symonds fell to McLaren, and Pollard accounted for Rohit and Monish Mishra in the successive overs.
Half the team was back in the dug-out by the end of the 12th over with the score reading 81 and the match was as good as over.
Later Harbhajan got two wickets in just three balls to hasten the end.
Chargers started their run-chase on a poor note by losing Gibbs, Gilchrist and Laxman with only 40 on the board.
Gibbs once again showed glimpses of his capability, striking Harbhajan for two fours in the first over and then cover-driving Lasith Malinga for his third boundary.
But he rushed out to Zaheer in his first over and tried an almighty heave to leg, got a leading edge which was pouched with glee by Sachin Tendulkar at extra cover.
Laxman, included in the eleven in place of Venugopal Rao, was unfortunate to be run-out due to a misunderstanding with Gilchrist’s runner Ryan Harris.
Then just past the power play the visiting team captain too fell, bowled comprehensively by Zaheer as he tried to hoist over mid-wicket to leave the Chargers at a difficult 40 for three in the beginning of seventh over.
Symonds and Rohit looked to be steering the floundering ship from troubled waters when a superb return catch by the tall Pollard sent back the latter.
Symonds followed suit, bowled by McLaren, 13 runs later and it was an uphill task from then on for the rest of the batsmen.
Earlier, Rayudu who joined Tiwary when the hosts had lost three wickets in a heap to be at 62 for three after nine overs, recovered Mumbai from a mini collapse and post a challenging 178 for five.
Tiwary, who cracked three sixes and one four, added 65 runs for the fourth-wicket partnership with Rayudu.
Rayudu and Kieron Pollard (21) then added a quick 51 in less than five overs for the sixth-wicket combo to help MI end on a high note.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha picked up three wickets for 26 runs but Deccan, after looking like restricting high-flying hosts for a modest total conceded a lot of runs to the end.
The visitors gave away 34 runs in the last two overs off Harris and Jaskaran Singh.
Their expensive overs spoilt Ojha’s effort who picked up opener Shikhar Dhawan (14) and Dwayne Bravo (2) in successive overs and then added Tiwary to his tally.
Rahul Sharma also chipped in with the prized wicket of captain Tendulkar (35).
The home team batsmen struggled on a sluggish wicket that offered turn to the spinners.
Mumbai were given a good start by the right-left combination of Tendulkar and Dhawan who put on 53 runs before three wickets fell in quick succession.
Deccan started bowling with Rohit the off-spinner could not control the new ball and started with two wides before Tendulkar on-drove him with a lofted shot for a four. Rohit conceded 12 runs in the first over.
But Chargers skipper Adam Gilchrist soon stumped Dhawan off Ojha to give the hosts first blow and in the next over Sharma trapped in-form Tendulkar plumb. He made 35 off 25 balls with the help of five fours.
The hosts were rocked further when Ojha made a ball turn that went past the bat of West Indian Bravo to reduce them to 62 for three from 53 for no loss in 18 balls.
Tiwary and Rayudu then did the consolidation job.
Mumbai Indians: 178 for 5 in 20 overs (Ambati Rayudu 55 not out, Saurabh Tiwary 44; Pragyan Ojha 3/26).
Deccan Chargers: 115 all out in 18.2 overs (Andrew Symonds 21, Adam Gilchrist 19; Zaheer Khan 2/10, Harbhajan Singh 2/16).