Sharjah: Glenn Maxwell played another hurricane knock to steer Kings XI Punjab to a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals with eight balls to spare in a highscoring IPL match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday. He carried on in the same vein as against Chennai Super Kings to hit 89 off 45 balls and make a mockery of Rajasthan Royals’ mammoth score of 191 for five.
Maxwell’s innings contained eight fours and six sixes. He was well supported by Cheteshwar Pujara, who played the second fiddle to aggressive Maxwell as well as David Miller, who hit an unbeaten 51 off 19 balls with six sixes. Pujara remained unbeaten on 40 off 38 balls.
The architects of Rajasthan’s impressive score were Shane Watson, who returned to form with a breezy 50 off 29 balls and young Sanju Samson, who scored 52 off 34 balls. The seven sixes they hit between them enthralled the spectators as they put on 74 runs in just seven overs.
Chasing a run rate of 9.55 runs per over, Kings XI Punjab needed a fast start. Virender Sehwag was the right person for the job but he sliced a delivery from Dhawal Kulkarni into the hands of Stuart Binny at deep point for two. Wriddhiman Saha lasted just three balls before he swung at James Faulkner and was brilliantly caught by a tumbling Kulkarni at deep backward square leg. Opener Pujara, then on 10, would have followed had Pravin Tambe taken a comfortable catch at mid-on off Kane Richardson.
Maxwell, the hero of their win over the Super Kings in Abu Dhabi, began in style hitting Richardson for over square leg and hitting the next one to the boundary over mid on. He also hit leg spinner Tambe’s first delivery over square leg for a six. He also hit Faulkner for two sixes in the seventh over to accelerate the run rate and reach his half century in 28 balls.
Maxwell reverse swept medium pacer Rajata Bhatia for three boundaries in one over. When he also hit Kulkarni for three successive boundaries, Rajasthan’s huge total began to look a very small one. He entered eighties with two successive sixes off Bhatia. With his score on 89, he hit Richardson into the hands of Smith at long on. In the last five overs, Punjab needed 60 runs and Miller joined Pujara and tilted the match in their favour.
Earlier, Royals skipper Shane Watson and Sanju Samson entertained the fans with a shower of sixes. Punjab opened their bowling attack with their left-arm spinner Akshar Patel. Abhishek Nayar and Ajinkya Rahane opened the innings. Rahane hit the fifth ball of the first over for the first boundary of the match, a shot which he stepped out and hit through the covers.
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson bowled the second over and Rahane hit the second ball of his over towards deep backward square leg boundary. Punjab introduced a medium pacer in the third over in Parvinder Awana and Nayar clobbered him over long on for a huge six. When it looked like the openers may stay on for long, Rahane got run out at unlucky 13. Smith through a direct through from mid on ensure Rahane who was backing up for Nayar shot.
Sanju Samson joined Nayar and he began with a flowing extra cover drive off Laxmipathy Balaji. He also hit the last ball from Balaji for a mighty six over deep mid wicket. The crowd gave him a standing applause and asked for more sixers. With the ball coming into the bat, Samson hit Awana too for another boundary to deep mid wicket. Samson, who had once won the most promising player of the IPL, began to show his class. The first five overs produced 41 runs.
Johnson who bowled the sixth over got thrashed by Nayar. He hammered Johnson’s fourth delivery straight to boundary over Umpire Billy Bowden’s head and the next one he slogged hard over mid wicket. In fact, it was hard to believe that the bowler being thrashed was Ashes hero Johnson.
Left-arm veteran spinner Murali Kartik, who was introduced in the seventh over, struck with the first ball trapping Nayar leg before for 23 while attempting a sweep. Nayar and Samson had put on 32 runs in 3.1 overs and was threatening to further accelerate the run rate. Samson greeted his skipper Watson who joined him with another six by lifting Kartik over extra cover.
In the 10th over Watson hit two boundaries off Patel and Rajasthan looked set for a big score at 85 for 2.
Watson too began to hit sixes and thrashed over the bowler’s head for a six. He also hit for another straight six and crowd danced in joy. Watson raced past Samson to reach his half century in 28 balls. Patel ended Watson’s innings by clean bowling him while attempting a slog sweep.
Stuart Binny, who joined Samson lasted only eight balls before lifting Johnson into the hands of Miller at long on for 12. Samson reached his half century off 32 balls with a flat batted straight six off Awana. Two balls later he got bowled while attempting a slog moving away from his wicket.
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