KXIP southpaw hoping for yet another blast from Aussie in Qualifier 2 vs Chennai today
Kings XI Punjab know that Glenn Maxwell is their trump card if they have to make it to their first Indian Premier League (IPL) final.
Skipper George Bailey would be hoping his fellow Aussie fires when they take on the consistent Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier Two today at the Wankhede Stadium. The winner of this clash will take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the summit clash on June 1 in Bangalore.
Maxwell, who is IPL-7's third highest run-getter with 539 runs, has endured a slump just before the play-offs, managing 14, 2, 0 and 6 in his last four innings. The lanky batsman knows a lot is riding on him as well. And that is why the right-hander was the first to arrive for KXIP's optional training session yesterday.
He has made his intentions for the CSK clash amply clear given the manner he went after the bowlers in the nets yesterday. "Maxwell is a key player for us. There will be ups and downs in T20 cricket. We are hoping he fires tomorrow (Friday)," Punjab's Cheteshwar Pujara said after practice.
Glenn Maxwell hits out during practice at the Wankhede yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Maxwell is one of the biggest factors that would be looming large on Chennai's mind. The Aussie was brutal in the two league matches against CSK. He slammed a 43-ball 95 as Punjab chased down a massive 206-run target with ease in Abu Dhabi last month.
He was at his dominant best when Punjab met CSK in Cuttack where he scored a 38-ball 90 for his team to reach 231.
Maxwell has been particularly ruthless against off-spinner R Ashwin. The India star has conceded 64 runs in 24 balls (7 fours and 4 sixes) — at nearly 16 runs per over. He has been equally punishing against Ravindra Jadeja, who conceded 37 runs in his three overs without a wicket in their previous clash.
Maxwell's dominance seems to be bothering Ashwin, who threw an open challenge to the Aussie after CSK beat Mumbai Indians on Wednesday in the Eliminator.
As the television presenter was about to wrap up the interview, Ashwin, who has generally bowled round the wicket to right-handers in IPL-7, said: "Hold on, Maxwell can expect me to bowl more over the wicket in the next game." Clearly, the Aussie seems to have got under the Indian's skin.
Chennai, meanwhile, have the experience of five IPL finals and know how to handle the pressure of knockout stages. Punjab are relatively new to this experience and one could see the way they fumbled against KKR in the Qualifier 1.
But Pujara is confident Punjab will triumph. "We have an advantage over Chennai because we beat them in both the league matches. We want to make it to the final and we will play to our strengths to give ourselves the best chance," Pujara concluded.
> Opener Mandeep Singh (3) got out cheaply but Virender Sehwag played a cameo of 30 runs. After Sehwag got out, with the score at 38-2 in the sixth over, it was the Glenn Maxwell show all the way. The Aussie drove his team to a mammoth 231-4 with his magnificent 38-ball 90
> Maxwell was given good support by David Miller (47) and George Bailey, who hammered a brilliant 13-ball 40
> Chasing the highest total of IPL-7, Chennai had a poor start, losing explosive opener Dwayne Smith (4) in the first over. Faf du Plessis (52) and skipper MS Dhoni shared a 61-run fifth-wicket partnership, but the asking rate kept rising.
CSK could only manage 187-6