When George Bailey and Co. marched their way into the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on 18th April, very little did they know about what the game – against Chennai Super Kings, and the IPL, has in store for them.
For a franchise which had not tasted consistent success in the editions gone by, the seventh edition, especially after an impressive stint at the auctions, promised hope.
After scalping big fishes like Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson and Virender Sehwag to name a few, the KXIP unit, even before they faced or bowled their first ball, signaled an early warning.
At least for them, half the battle was one in the air-conditioned room. With every knock of the hammer, the KXIP think tank built their team brick by brick. The pace battery was charged, there was enough turn in the tweakers and the batting, needless to say, was explosive, at least on paper.
The paper theory faced the litmus test very early in the tournament. A sunny afternoon and it was raining sixes in Abu Dhabi. In the CSK-KXIP contest, at least till the 13th over of the CSK innings, one would have murmured – ‘they (KXIP) just can’t win, no matter how big players they have. After all it’s CSK they are playing against’.
The score sheet read an impressive 123/0 in 12.3 overs and the likes of Johnson, Balaji and Awana were taken to the cleaners. The 13th over of the innings, where spinner Akshar Patel drew first blood, was the first moment of some joy for the KXIP unit, who were getting a stick in the middle.
At the innings break, with the CSK total reading a mammoth 205/4, it was time for now or never for Bailey and Co. It was important for them to get their campaign off to a good start and a win against the mighty CSK makes the start even better.
More than 10 runs required every over, and KXIP start didn’t bring any hope. Inside four overs, openers Cheteshwar Pujara and Virender Sehwag were back in the hut, and the asking rate, kept climbing. After an abrupt end to Sehwag’s breezy start, Glenn Maxwell walked out to the middle. He took guard and did something which set the tone for the tournament, both for him and the team.
Ashwin dished a carrom ball way down the leg-stump and Maxwell, instead of seeing it thud into MSD’s gloves, in complete control, without any trouble, reverse swept it to the boundary. Who does that? Maxwell does that.
They lost another wicket, but there was no stopping Maxwell who took off in Abu Dhabi, and is yet to land. A 43-ball 95, and KXIP were over continued…