After stamping his authority in Kings XI Punjab’s first two games of the season, Glenn Maxwell (95 off 43 balls) made sure his team remained unbeaten after their win against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The big-hitting Australian dominated yet another set of bowlers, including Dale Steyn, as he scored his third half-century in three games this year. After KXIP posted a massive 193 for six, their bowlers, lead by Lakshmipathy Balaji, sealed a 72-run win in Sharjah.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan won the toss and asked KXIP to take first strike. However, the decision backfired as Virender Sehwag (30) erupted almost immediately. With Cheteshwar Pujara at the other end, the Nawab of Najafgarh unleashed a wide array of strokes. While he got out in the seventh over itself, Sehwag treated onlookers with two fours and three maximums during his 22-ball knock; Darren Sammy caught him near the long-on fence off Amit Mishra’s bowling.
Glenn Maxwell then walked in to join Pujara (35). Both batsmen continued to punish any loose deliveries from the SRH bowlers. They had added 35 runs off 4.2 overs, when Pujara finally perished near the mid-wicket fence while going for a big one off Sammy. However, there was no relief for SRH as the dangerous David Miller was the next man in. But the real danger was Maxwell, who by then had settled into a yet another big-hitting spree. The current Orange Cap holder continued his great run in Pepsi IPL 2014 and kept hitting one big hit after another – including outrageous reverse-sweeps and slog hits. He reached his third consecutive 50 of the tournament, this time in 21 balls.
Sammy finally had Maxwell caught off his bowling, only to find out he had overstepped – giving a second life to a batsman who was sure to capitalise on it. And he did just that as he smacked Sammy for a big hit and a four soon after. Miller (10), however, departed soon off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, leaving KXIP on 154 for three on 15.3 overs. But Kings XI had yet another clean striker, skipper George Bailey, walking in at No.5. The Australian duo added another 25 runs in which Maxwell (95) had the lion’s share, until he finally departed five runs short of what would have been one of most dominating T20 centuries. During his 43-ball knock, which was ended by Mishra, Maxwell hammered five fours and a whopping nine sixes.
Kumar then got rid of Bailey (10) in the final over of the innings, before he bowled Mitchell Johnson (4) out off the last ball of the same over. So, after successfully chasing down huge totals in their last two games, KXIP now posted a big score – 193 for six – while batting first. For SRH, Kumar was the most outstanding bowler; he finished his four overs at 19 for three.
SRH’s response was not proportionate, to say the least. They lost Dhawan (1) in the second over off the bowling of Johnson. Aaron Finch (19), who was striking the ball well, was the next to depart when Lakshmipathy Balajij trapped him leg-before. Things did not get any better for SRH as the pacer got rid of David Warner (8) two balls later. KXIP made yet another dent when Venugopal Rao (11) walked back to the dugout; Sandeep Sharma bowled him out to leave SRH on 49 for four after seven overs. While Irfan Pathan (5), the new man in, was playing the supporting role to Lokesh Rahul well, he was bowled out by Akshar Patel, before his own innings could take shape.
SRH were now pinning their hopes on Sammy (15) – their No.7 batsman. The big West Indian all-rounder did step on the pedal to accelerate the scoring rate momentarily, but his cameo ended when Patel plucked a great catch at mid-off off Balaji’s bowling. Rahul’s (27) resistance also ended soon thereafter, when he skied a delivery by Patel that was caught by Miller in the deep. At 95 for seven in 14.1 overs, SRH were all but out of the contest. The KXIP bowlers ensured it stayed that way as just 19 runs later, Johnson ended Karn Sharma’s (10) knock. Balaji (4-0-13-4) then claimed his fourth wicket of the game when he cleaned up Dale Steyn (12). In the process, the KXIP pacer staked his claim on the Purple Cap by bypassing Sunil Narine’s wicket tally in the league so far.
SRH’s innings finally ended when Rishi Dhawan got rid of Kumar (1). The Sunrisers could only manage 121 in 19.2 overs, as KXIP earned a huge 72-run win.
Man of the Match: Glenn Maxwell for his match-winning knock of 95 (5x4; 9x6)