Glenn Maxwell’s entry was so eagerly anticipated that the cheers at the end of Virender Sehwag’s cameo were drowned in the raucous noise which welcomed the explosive Australia batsman. And Maxwell appeared to have never left the field and the law of averages too seemed alien to the Kings XI Punjab hero so far in IPL 7.
And it didn’t hurt that David Warner dropped him on 11, leaving Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers to cower as Maxwell lashed a 43-ball 95 (5x4, 9x6), the 25-year-old third sensational knock following the 95 and 89 which sank Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals respectively in the first two matches.
If Maxwell was recession proof in batting, his team mate and Aussie compatriot Mitchell Johnson these days hardly worries about the slowness of the pitch. The most fearsome bowler in the current game first beat Sunrisers skipper Shikhar Dhawan with pace, forcing a simple nick behind stumps.
David Warner, dropping to No. 3 to make room for Aaron Finch as opener, was left wishing he was on the same side as the left-arm tearaway. Trying to back away, Warner took a painful hit on his left glove as Johnson followed him with a nasty short-pitched delivery.
Softened up thus, Warner was bemused as Lakshmipathy Balaji, half the pace of his Aussie team mate, got one to kick and fended to point. Sunrisers never recovered from the early setbacks and when Johnson return for his final spell, the innings was already in the doldrums.
The KXIP aggression left Sunrisers’ spinner Amit Mishra hurting. Four sixes were lashed in the 13th over, three of them were by Maxwell. He then picked 16 off Karn Sharma and added another 12 from Darren Sammy.
At 62, Maxwell got another favour, this time a big no-ball by Sammy brought him back to the wicket, having walked away after being caught at deep midwicket. A six and a four was the 25-year-old immediate response.
But the century again proved elusive. Maxwell had already Mishra for two more sixes when he had him caught at long off.
Cheteshwar Pujara did his bit again, hitting six fours in his 32-ball 35 which again provided solidity at the top. Sehwag consumed five deliveries from Dale Steyn in the first over but once Dhawan pressed Irfan Pathan into the attack, Sehwag simply pounced on him; 6,4,4 saw Viru at his contemptuous best. Another six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mishra, but Viru couldn’t go beyond a good start.