Sunrisers Hyderabad sealed their place in the IPL playoffs, and sent a message to the other qualifiers in the process with an formidable 10-wicket win over table-toppers Mumbai Indians.
The 2016 winners knew that only victory in Sharjah would be good enough for them to leapfrog Kolkata Knight Riders into the top four in the points table.
No other result ever seemed likely, as they dominated Mumbai – maybe from even before a ball was bowled.
While this was a must-win game for Hyderabad, Mumbai’s position in the next phase – and, importantly, in the first qualifier playoff – had long since been assured.
The make up of their starting XI suggested they already had their minds on their next fixture, against Delhi Capitals in Dubai on Thursday.
Both of their in-form strike bowlers, Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah, were rested.
Also, Rohit Sharma returned to captain, in what was essentially a fitness test after his extended spell out through injury.
Whether Rohit is fit was difficult to ascertain, given his stay at the crease was only brief.
While no-one else has got Virat Kohli out as many times as Sandeep Sharma in IPL cricket, the India captain is not the only one who struggles against the Hyderabad swing bowler.
Sandeep picked up Rohit – against whom he has a fine record – then got Quinton de Kock and Ishan Kishan.
Jason Holder and Shahbaz Nadeem also took four wickets apiece as Mumbai were kept to 149-8, in the last game at a ground that had been so benevolent to batsmen earlier in the competition.
Their chase could not have been more emphatic. David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha, their openers, were not parted, sharing an unbroken alliance of 151 to win with the best part of three overs to spare.
“After losing that game against Kings XI Punjab, where we weren’t able to chase a small target, all the boys have shown a lot of character,” VVS Laxman, Hyderabad’s team mentor, said of their late charge into the playoffs.
“I am really pleased with the way Saha has come in and just changed the energy and dynamic of our batting.”
Rohit said his hamstring felt fine, but he wanted to consign this fixture to history.
“It was not a day we want to remember, it was probably the worst performance of the season for us,” Mumbai’s captain said.
“We wanted to try out a few things, but unfortunately things didn’t go our way. Losing wickets at the start doesn’t make it easy.”
Hyderabad will now face Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator match on Friday.
The winner of that will advance to the final qualifier, against the loser of the match between Mumbai and Delhi, while the loser goes out.