The Indian Premier League (IPL) has got off to a blistering start, with Australian Glenn Maxwell providing possibly the best innings of the tournament so far for Kings XI Punjab.
His knock of 95 from 43 balls against the Chennai Super Kings helped Punjab make a winning start to this year’s IPL as they chased down a target of 206 with seven balls and six wickets in hand.
The Kings XI had been in some trouble at 38-2 early in Maxwell’s innings, but with support coming from David Miller, he made short work of their target.
His innings contained 15 fours and two sixes, while his final strike rate of 220.93 speaks of an innings that was sustained in its brutal aggression against a handy bowling attack.
Maxwell’s innings made Punjab’s task look very comfortable indeed, and despite being dropped twice, it gave his side impetus at a vital time in their run chase.
Opening Phase: Balls 1-15
When Maxwell strode to the crease, his team were already under pressure at 31-1 at the end of the third over. Things started spectacularly as he reverse-swept his first ball for four.
In the course of his first 10 balls, in fact, Maxwell dealt almost exclusively in boundaries, scoring six fours while taking a single off what was just his second ball.
Then he began to manoeuvre the ball and run easy singles, meaning, Punjab kept their innings ticking over and ensured they were never too far behind the required run rate.
Joined at the crease by David Miller, both ensured that their side rebuilt something of a wobble in the middle-order while maintaining some momentum in their run chase.
This approach meant that after 15 balls, Maxwell had scored 31 runs with six boundaries with just four dots, meaning, his side were definitely still in the hunt.
Middle Phase: Balls 16-30
A crucial moment came from Maxwell’s 19th ball, as he was dropped by Ashish Nehra at short third man, who put down what was a very easy chance to take a wicket.
The following over, he hit another switch hit to cap off what was a very successful 11th over and bring up his 50. Then in the 12th, he hit four boundaries, of which one was his first maximum of the day.
With Miller also beginning to find form and accelerate, Maxwell was opening his shoulders and exhibiting the kind of clean hitting that he is capable of in the shortest form.
This barrage of boundaries combined with some well-taken singles meant that after 30 balls, Maxwell had 68 runs, and Punjab were very much on track for a successful run chase.
Closing Phase: Balls 31-43
In the final deliveries of Maxwell’s innings, he was dropped once again on 76, when substitute Samuel Badree grassed one at deep square leg off the bowling of Dwayne Smith.
Then after Ravichandran Ashwin managed to stem the flow of runs at least slightly in the 15th over, limiting Maxwell to mostly singles, he took advantage in the 16th.
Off the bowling of the unlucky Smith, Maxwell hit the first ball of the over down the ground for an enormous six. Then he hit the second to long leg for four.
That took him to 95 and gave Punjab’s innings a great deal of momentum for the closing overs, especially with Miller now starting to provide some fireworks of his own from the other end.
Unfortunately for Maxwell, he would be denied a first ever Twenty20 century, as Smith had his revenge with the third ball of the 16th over with a yorker that uprooted his leg stump.
However, in a short space of time and despite his innings containing just two sixes, Maxwell changed the course of the game and helped take Punjab most of the way to victory.
The job would be completed by Miller and Maxwell’s fellow Australian, George Bailey, with Miller gaining a great deal of credit for his unbeaten 54 from 37 balls.
However, it was Maxwell’s 95 that turned the tide and showed that the Australian should be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s IPL.