Rohit Sharma and Herschelle Gibbs, playing his first game this season, set up Mumbai Indians with a 167-run stand that helped end Kolkata Knight Riders' unbeaten run of seven games. Rohit, who made his maiden IPL ton, was in complete command and Gibbs settled in quickly despite having watched the bulk of the season from the dug out; the pair justified their captain's decision to bat, piled on a formidable total that proved beyond the hosts' reach and preserved Mumbai Indians' place in the top four.
For a team that had been among the most consistent in this IPL, Knight Riders' bowling line-up slipped up considerably. Batsmen were given a generous dose of short-pitched deliveries together with width that gave them several opportunities to open up. Both Rohit and Gibbs displayed a ruthlessness that ensured Knight Riders were made to pay. The only highlight for the hosts was the early fall of Sachin Tendulkar; from there on, it was one-way traffic.
Rohit relished the short ball and seemed to have the time to rock back and dispatch it with ease. He pulled Brett Lee for a six over square leg before slashing Shakib Al Hasan twice through point, even as the left-arm spinner pushed one through quicker the second time round. Sunil Narine, difficult to pick, beat the bat on occasion but there was plenty of release available at the other end to deal with him cautiously. Rohit slog-swept Shakib for six and then targeted Jacques Kallis.
Kallis was taken for 18 in the 11th over, Rohit sending him over deep square leg and bringing up his half-century with a flick past short fine leg. Rajat Bhatia's dibbly-dobblies weren't spared either, Rohit even sweeping him for four in an over that fetched 19. Returning for a new spell, Lee struggled for the right length - Rohit launched him over long-on, cracked him through point, clipped him over midwicket and brought up his century - the eighth Indian to score a ton in the IPL - in the same over.
Gibbs was comfortable playing second-fiddle but, even then, showed how destructive he could be in his own right. He nonchalantly charged out to Lee to hammer him over extra cover three times in one over, stepped out to Bhatia and Narine to collect more boundaries and marched along to a half-century, giving Mumbai Indians an opening combination they could stick to for the remainder of their campaign.
Knight Riders were dealt a severe blow when they lost their captain Gautam Gambhir - who scored five fifties in his previous nine games - in the first over, bowled while trying to cut. His opening partner Manvinder Bisla top-edged a catch next over, and despite an attempted revival from Kallis, Knight Riders couldn't get far enough.
On a slowish track, the Mumbai Indians bowlers varied their pace and didn't dole out too many freebies. Even though Knight Riders bat deep and had Kallis and Yusuf Pathan together for almost half the innings, they struggled to keep up with the required-rate. Kallis, though, managed to reach his first half-century this season and Yusuf, who'd had a forgettable season with the bat before this, found some form during his unbeaten 40. The defeat was a blip Knight Riders could afford, given their place at No.2, but they have stiff competition.