A couple of days back, Kings XI Punjab skipper George Bailey had stayed sober amidst the euphoria after his side had overhauled a two hundred plus target against Chennai Super Kings in their opening match of IPL 7. “This isn’t going to happen everyday,” said Bailey while focussing on the need to tighten their bowling.
As things turned out, ‘it’ happened all over again. The Punjab bowlers leaked 191 runs against Rajasthan Royals. But just as in their opening game, first Glen Maxwell and then David Miller took the side to the win with plenty to spare. This time they reached the target with 8 balls and seven wickets in hand.
Between them, the two smashed 140 runs in 64 balls. Of the 11 fours that the side scored, eight were hit by Maxwell who scored 89 off 45 deliveries. Miller, who was unbeaten on a 19-ball-51 didn’t hit a single four but smoked six sixes off the 12 in total his side scored, with Maxwell hitting the rest.
Before Maxwell and Miller stole the show, Rajasthan must have fancied their chances. History – they had never lost a game while defending more than 190 – was on their side as was the fact that Punjab were 10/2, with Virender Sehwag and Wriddhiman Saha out cheaply, when Maxwell walked into bat after 2.4 overs.
There was little time to settle in and that anyway isn’t how Maxwell is known to bat. He swung at the second ball he faced off Dhawal Kulkarni and barely missed getting an outside edge. A little later he got a leading edge that just eluded fast bowler Kane Richardson. For a significant period of time after that though, the ball would do nothing but find the middle of the Tasmanian’s blade.
Rajasthan quick Richardson was flicked for a six then flat batted down to long on for four. When Pravin Tambe came on to bowl, the leg spinners first ball was swatted over mid wicket. Next over it was James Faulkner’s turn to be hit for a couple of sixes.
Rajasthan skipper Shane Watson tried to reign in Maxwell by getting the slow bowlers on and packing the leg side boundaries. To cut off Maxwell’s pressure releasing reverse sweep, Watson even had three men around point. It worked for a while – Tambe and Rajat Bhatia squeezed out three overs for just 13 runs as the required run rate creeped over 12 runs at the half way mark.
But Maxwell would not be contained, The 11th over of the innings bowled by Bhatia was hit for three reverse swept boundaries – the last going in front of square. The next over from Dhawal Kulkarni went for 17 – with Maxwell now threading orthodox cover drives continued…