Kings XI Punjab continued their strong start to the IPL season with a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Fresh from a convincing win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their season opener, the Royals picked up from where they left off with 54 runs in the power play after Punjab opted to field first, having won the toss.
Their final total of 191/5 featured superb displays of batting throughout the order, with captain Shane Watson particularly impressive—slugging his way to a half-century in double-quick time.
From just 28 balls, the Australian reached his fifty with three sixes and five fours but was dismissed by Akshar Patel without adding to his innings.
Sanju Samson also reached the half-century landmark, firing his way to 52 with a strike rate of 152.94, as Kings XI Punjab’s bowlers struggled to make their mark.
|Rajasthan Royals: 191/5 (20 overs)|
|Abhishek Nayar||lbw Murali Kartik||23||20||2/1|
|Ajinkya Rahane||run out (George Bailey)||13||8||2/0|
|Sanju Samson||b Parvinda Awana||52||34||3/4|
|Shane Watson||b Akshar Patel||50||29||5/3|
|Stuart Binny||c David Miller b Mitchell Johnson||12||8||0/1|
|Steve Smith||NOT OUT||27||15||5/0|
|James Faulkner||NOT OUT||8||7||0/1|
They fared a lot better with the bat, though, chasing down another impressive total after having already reached 206 to dispose of Chennai Super Kings in their opening match.
Glenn Maxwell produced yet another stellar display, chalking up 89 runs from just 45 balls as he hit boundary after boundary to inspire his side to 193/3 with eight balls remaining.
The 25-year-old Australian hit eight fours and six sixes on the way to his impressive total, inspiring the Punjab order to cross the line.
David Miller also looked in unstoppable form, hitting the decisive runs in another incredible innings that saw him romp to 51 runs from 19 balls with six sixes.
|Kings XI Punjab: 193/3 (18.4 overs)|
|Cheteshwar Pujara||NOT OUT||40||38||3/0|
|Virender Sehwag||c Stuart Binny b Dhawal Kulkarni||2||7||0/0|
|Wriddhiman Saha||c Dhawal Kulkarni b James Faulkner||2||3||0/0|
|Glenn Maxwell||c Steve Smith b Kane Richardson||89||45||8/6|
|David Miller||NOT OUT||51||19||0/6|
The pair batted beautifully, and Maxwell’s innings may have come down to a newfound confidence that he has picked up since signing from Mumbai Indians, as he says that being a regular in the side is a good feeling—per ESPN cricinfo:
It always feels nice when you know that you are going to be a regular in the playing eleven, something which was not possible at a star-studded Mumbai outfit. Here I feel more relaxed and don't feel the same pressure of expectations. The start has been good and hopefully we will only get better from here.
He certainly showed said relaxed attitude during his remarkable innings and again during Punjab’s opening match against Chennai Super Kings, where he batted his way to 95.
With two wins out of two, the dream of reaching the play-offs for the first time since the inaugural tournament back in 2008 is very much alive. If Maxwell remains in such form, then it’s almost a certainty.
Next up for Kings XI Punjab is Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday, where they’ll look to their mercurial Australian for another world-class performance.