In the initial phase of the ongoing Indian Premier League, Chris Gayle – the most destructive batsman in IPL history, has missed out on all three matches played by Royal Challengers Bangalore, as a result of a back injury. In his absence, one can expect the tournament to lose its sheen a bit. But so far, there has been no dearth of entertainment in the League, as two swashbuckling batsmen from Kings XI Punjab – Glenn Maxwell and David Miller have been right on top of their game. Both the hard-hitters have torn the bowlers apart and smashed them all over the park.
Maxwell, who was a part of the Mumbai franchise last season, was picked by Punjab for this edition. From the first match, the Victoria-born cricketer has given the bowlers a tough time with his swashbuckling batting. In the first match against two-time champions Chennai Super Kings, Maxwell came to bat at one down and played a blinder while chasing a mammoth total of 205. The right-hander missed his hundred by mere five runs as he scored 95 off 43 balls, laced with fifteen boundaries and two sixes. On other hand, South African Miller, gave Maxwell good company and finished the game in style with the help of his unbeaten 54-run knock.
In the next two games for Punjab, Maxwell scored 89 and 95 -- two more match-winning knocks. Miller, who is growing his stature as a finisher, too went on to score his consecutive fifty in the second game. In all three games, Maxwell missed his hundred by a few runs, but his outstanding knocks made sure that his side won comprehensively.
Maxwell is certainly giving the bowlers sleepless nights, but his USP is the way he is scoring runs. Mind it! Maxi is not slogging; he is playing the ball according to its merit, and most importantly, playing proper cricketing shots. His two most effective shots have been the switch-hit and the reverse-sweep. He plays them with such precision and confidence, that it would even make Kevin Pietersen proud. On the other hand, Maxwell’s massive sixes all over park, would probably be giving a bit of insecurity to monstrous hitter Chris Gayle.
The Australian is giving a tough time not just to the seamers, but even tweakers are finding it hard to bowl against him. In fact, the prime Indian spinners, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra have leaked plenty of runs against him. In the third match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mishra, who impressed everyone with his variations in the recently concluded World Twenty20, was clueless against Maxwell.
Mishra started off well in the match by picking up Virender Sehwag’s wicket in his first over and then conceded mere five in his next. But when he was reintroduced into the attack to bowl the 13th over of the innings, the leggie leaked 25 runs, as Maxwell smacked him for four sixes. There was no respite for the leg-spinner, as Maxwell hit two more sixes off his last over, which yielded 17 runs for Punjab. To hit regular sixes off Mishra, who has several tricks up his sleeve, is one of the most daring things to do on such slow tracks of UAE. But there is no stopping Maxwell at the moment.
Though, Mumbai Indians made him a million dollar baby last season, its KXIP, who have utilised Maxwell`s full potential. In all the three games Punjab have played and won so far, Maxi ran away with the Man of the Match awards. Though he missed his hundred on all three occasions, his whirlwind knocks gave the crowd a reason to cheer.
Maxwell is the orange cap holder with 279 runs, at an average of above 93 and an incredible strike rate of 212. If Miller has hit ten sixes so far in three innings, and is at the second spot for hitting the maximum sixes, then Maxi is right at the top with 17. When it comes to boundaries, again the hard-hitting right-hander is leading the table with 28 fours.
Though IPL-7 is still in its early days, the way Maxwell and Miller have entertained the viewers all over the world, they wouldn’t have missed Gayle, who is likely to play his first match of the season against Kings XI Punjab.