SHARJAH - Last season, Glenn Maxwell was the punchline to tons of millionaire jokes. He warmed the Mumbai Indians bench for much of the campaign, and was a peripheral figure in the three matches he did play. This time, the season is only a week old, and he’s not just played three matches, he’s been the Man of the Match in each.
The people laughing now will be Kings XI Punjab’s owners who will view the million dollars they sunk on Maxwell as a bargain given the three impressive wins he has orchestrated at the start of the season. If the previous two victories had been thrilling encounters in which Kings XI hunted down massive scores, this was a forgettably one-sided affair after Maxwell put on a show again to lead the side to 193. Especially after L Balaji removed David Warner and Aaron Finch in the fifth over.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have a dangerous top order - any of Shikhar Dhawan, Warner or Finch can single-handedly transform a match - but they also have a dangerously unbalanced batting line-up. After the big three, the batting is alarmingly thin - KL Rahul is still finding his way at this level, Venugopal Rao isn’t someone teams are going to worry about too much, Irfan Pathan is a spot too high at No. 6 and Darren Sammy is great at providing the finishing touches but less proficient at building the base.
Once Mitchell Johnson accounted for Dhawan and Balaji made his double breakthrough, it was a hour-long dirge for Sunrisers’ fans before it ended in a crushing 72-run defeat, leaving them with plenty of questions over the composition of the team.
Warner won’t just be disappointed with his low score, but also with his botched catch that reprieved Maxwell on 11. With Wriddhiman Saha slotted for No. 6, Kings XI don’t have too much depth in their batting, something Sunrisers could have capitalised on had Warner held on to a fairly straightforward chance at long-off in the 10th over.
Instead, the chance went went down and Maxwell went on to pillage 95 off 43, including nine sixes. The highlight of the onslaught was the 13th over when Maxwell effortlessly cleared midwicket off the first three deliveries before launching one towards the sightscreen to take 25 runs off Amit Mishra.
This innings had fewer of the switch-hits and reverse-sweeps and was more about clean hitting down the ground and, especially, over midwicket.
It was the prefect setting for Maxwell as the openers Cheteshwar Pujara and Virender Sehwag had provided a fast start from which he could build. He had plenty of luck as well - besides the Warner reprieve, he was caught off a no-ball, a skier was in the air for ages but evaded everyone when it landed at midwicket. Sunrisers also didn’t bring on their main weapon, Dale Steyn, when Maxwell was in the midst of his carnage. Till he was 72 off 29, Maxwell faced neither Steyn nor Bhuvneshwar Kumar - both of whom combined to limit the damage at the end of the innings. Still, though Kings XI didn’t reach the 200 that they looked nailed on for, they reached a total which proved far too much for Sunrisers.
KING’S XI PUNJAB:
CA Pujara c Venugopal Rao b Sammy 35
V Sehwag c Sammy b Mishra 30
GJ Maxwell c Sammy b Mishra 95
DA Miller c Warner b Kumar 10
GJ Bailey c Warner b Kumar 10
MG Johnson b Kumar 4
AR Patel not out 0
EXTRAS: (lb 5, w 3, nb 1) 9
TOTAL: (6 wickets; 20 overs) 193
FOW: 1-51, 2-86, 3-154, 4-179, 5-189, 6-193
BOWLING: DW Steyn 4-0-26-0, B Kumar 4-0-19-3, IK Pathan 2-0-28-0, KV Sharma 4-0-37-0, A Mishra 4-0-56-2, DJG Sammy 2-0-22-1
AJ Finch b Balaji 19
S Dhawan c Saha b Johnson 1
DA Warner c Maxwell b Balaji 8
KL Rahul c Miller b Patel 27
Y Venugopal Rao b Sandeep Sharma 11
IK Pathan b Patel 5
DJG Sammy c Patel b Balaji 15
KV Sharma c Miller b Johnson 10
DW Steyn b Balaji 12
A Mishra not out 4
B Kumar c Johnson b Dhawan 1
EXTRAS: (lb 3, w 3, nb 2) 8
TOTAL: (all out; 19.2 overs) 121
FOW: 1-11, 2-31, 3-33, 4-49, 5-74. 6-93, 7-95, 8-114, 9-118, 10-121
BOWLING: Sandeep Sharma 4-0-26-1, MG Johnson 4-0-26-2, L Balaji 4-0-13-4, R Dhawan 2.2-0-23-1, AR Patel 4-0-20-2, GJ Maxwell 1-0-10-0.
UMPIRES: M Erasmus (SA), S Ravi (Ind)
TV UMPIRE: BF Bowden (NZ)
MATCH REFEREE: AJ Pycroft (Zim)