Apr 212014
IPL 2014: Maxwell and Miller won yet another match for KingsXIPunjab

Kings XI Punjab chased down yet another high total when they trounced the Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets on Sunday night.

Match Review Indian Premier League – Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals. April 20 at Sharjah, UAE.

Kings XI Punjab were set 191 to chase and got there with some to spare. There were still seven eager batsmen sitting in the dugout as Glenn Maxwell (89) and David Miller (51 not out) powered their side to victory with eight balls to spare.

George Bailey won the toss and chose the field first on the batsman friendly pitch. Rajasthan openers Ajinkya Rahane and Abhishek Nayar gave them a solid start, putting on 22 in three overs before Rahane (13) was run out by Bailey.

They edged on to 54 for one at the end of the six over powerplay. Nayar (23) was trapped leg before, which sent in power hitter Shane Watson (50). The Australian and Sanju Samson (52) scored regular boundaries.

Later in the innings, Australian duo Steve Smith (27 not out) and James Faulkner (8 not out) steered Rajasthan to a big total.

The men representing Jaipur would have fancied their chances after two quick wickets saw the Kings XI Punjab teetering at 10 for two.

But Man of the Match Maxwell entered the cauldron and set the stadium alight, firing eight fours and six sixes to reach a match winning 89 off 45 balls before he holed out to Kane Richardson.

He was supported nicely by South African David Miller who smashed six sixes, reaching his half century in 19 balls, hitting the match winning runs in the process.

Scorecard: Kings XI Punjab 193 for 3 (Maxwell 89, Miller 51*, Pujara 40*) beat Rajasthan Royals 191 for 5 (Samson 52, Watson 50) by 7 wickets.

Man of the Match: Glenn Maxwell


Apr 182014
Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone else

Glenn Maxwell used the switch hit to devastating effect, Chennai v Punjab, Indian T20 league, Abu Dhabi, April 18, 2014

Reverse-sweeps, switch-hits, clever laps and conventional slogs – Glenn Maxwell’s innings had it all © BCCI

Glenn Maxwell shaped to sweep but held his stroke and let the ball go past him instead, turning his back to it in exaggerated manner. It was the third time in two overs that R Ashwin had bowled a wide down the leg side to Maxwell, and each time it had seemed as though the batsman had provoked him into bowling that line.

Other batsmen try and upset a bowler’s rhythm by moving conspicuously around the crease; Maxwell had done this with little feints of his hip and shoulder, like a winger toying with a fullback, suggesting he might play a certain stroke without really committing to it.

Ashwin had taken two wickets already. His side was defending a total of 205. But Maxwell had reverse-swept him twice already with clinical placement, and that had clearly rattled him.

“Why are you scared, Ashwin?” yelled a voice from the grass banks. “He’s not Afridi!”

The heckler was right. Maxwell isn’t really Afridi, even if his strike rate and his ability to clear the ropes puts him in that category of batsman. But he had brought back a vague memory of an entirely different Pakistan batsman in the brief time he had spent at the crease till that point. He had made you think of Javed Miandad.

There’s no comparing their careers, of course, or their batting styles, but a common thread runs through their wholly different personalities at the crease. Miandad was cocky in a chatty sort of way; Maxwell seems to project a sort of icy disdain. Both approaches, though, are directed towards the same end, that of getting under the bowlers’ skins.

This aspect of Maxwell’s game surely played some role in two of his most notable international innings so far. Last year, in Bangalore, he had walked in at 74 for 4, with Australia going at under four-and-a-half runs an over while chasing 384 in the deciding match of the ODI series against India. Maxwell, impervious to the prevailing circumstances, came in and smashed 60 off 22 balls.

During the World T20 last month, Australia lost two wickets in their first over against Pakistan while chasing 192. Maxwell walked in and tonked 74 off 33 balls. In the time he was at the crease, Aaron Finch scored a wholly prosaic 37 off 32 at the other end. Finch carried on to make 65, but none of the other Australians got into double figures as Pakistan wrapped up a 16-run win.

Maxwell, that day, seemed to bat in a bubble that excluded everyone else, including his partner at the other end. It didn’t even have room for the match situation. The bubble broke when he was dismissed, and normal service resumed.

Friday was similar. Punjab were chasing 206, and were 31 for 1 when Maxwell walked in. He saw two more wickets fall before David Miller joined him, at 52 for 3. Maxwell’s response to all of this wasn’t so much “no problem, I’ll handle it” as “I don’t really care”.

You have to be extremely talented to play that way, of course, and there were a couple of occasions when he caressed the ball through the off side with so much grace that you had to rub your eyes and wonder what was going on. There was a bit of Ricky Ponting in the dip of his head at the highest point of Maxwell’s backlift, and in the smooth downswing of his bat. Yes, him too.

In the end, Maxwell’s 43-ball 95, which set Punjab up to win with a level of comfort that didn’t seem possible when he had begun his innings, left you pondering a parallel universe. Here was a man who batted like a weird mix of Miandad and Ponting who, in between the flowing drives, the clever laps and reverse-sweeps, slogged rather crudely at a number of deliveries, timing some, missing some, never seeming to care either way. It made you wonder what sort of a batsman he would be if Twenty20 didn’t exist.

Apr 182014
Maxwell Sets Up Stunning Chase
Glenn Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell hit 95 in just 43 balls as the Kings XI Punjab chased down 206

© REUTERS / Action Images

Kings XI Punjab 206-4 (Maxwell 95) beat
Chennai Super Kings 205-4 by six wickets
Indian Premier League 2014, Abu Dhabi

Glenn Maxwell blasted 95 in 43 balls as the Kings XI Punjab chased a target of 206 to beat the Chennai Super Kings with seven balls to spare in both sides’ opening game of the Indian Premier League 2014.

The runs flowed right from the start in Abu Dhabi, where half-centuries from Brendon McCullum (67) and Dwayne Smith (66) saw Chenna post 205 for four.

However, with Maxwell and David Miller (54 not out in 37 balls) in fine form, that score was not enough.

This was the second time that Kings XI have chased down more than 200 to beat the Super Kings and they remain the only team to do so in IPL history.

Batting first, McCullum and Smith took advantage of a belter of a track at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium to hammer the Kings XI bowling to all parts.

The former struck four fours and five sixes in 45 balls and the latter six fours and three sixes in 43 balls and added 123 together in 12.4 overs.

After they were removed by Akshar Patel and Lakshmipathy Balaji, more quick runs were added by Suresh Raina, who celebrated his 100th IPL match with 24 in 19 balls and MS Dhoni, who scored 26 in 11 deliveries.

Dwayne Bravo was unbeaten on eight in three balls when Dhoni fell to Balaji (2-43) from the final ball of the innings.

Bravo would later head to hospital with a shoulder injury, although Dhoni revealed afterwards that he was playing the match as a specialist batsman, and was not offering excuses for his side’s failure to defend their score.

Much like the Delhi Daredevils in their opening match, the Super Kings were sloppy in the field and uncharacteristically so.

Samuel Badree, Ravindra Jadeja, Ashish Nehra and Faf du Plessis all dropped catches, with Nehra’s allowing Maxwell to continue when on 37.

It was a crucial moment because Kings XI had been 52 for three with Virender Sehwag (19), Cheteshwar Pujara (13) and Patel (2) already dismissed.

There was little opportunity for Maxwell and Miller to consolidate, and they quickly found their range just as McCullum and Smith had done so earlier.

Maxwell led the way, scoring shots all round the ground with drives, pulls, sweeps and reverse sweeps.

He hit 15 fours and two sixes in all before falling with a century in sight when a perfect yorker from Smith got through his defences, breaking the partnership worth 115.

Miller, who up until that point had scored at a fraction more than a run per ball, then stepped up to hit 54 in 37 balls with three fours and three sixes.

From needing 59 to win in six overs, Maxwell, Miller and then George Bailey got the target down to just 16 needed in two overs.

That proved to be no obstacle and Bailey, unbeaten on 17 in 10 balls, finished off the job with a brace of boundaries in the 19th over of Mohit Sharma to ensure the Kings XI were off the mark at the earliest opportunity.

Ravichandran Ashwin finished with two for 41, Smith one for 25 and Nehra one for 24.

© Cricket World 2014

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Apr 132014
IPL 2014: Top 30 most dangerous and destructive batsmen!

A quick look at batting firepower across the eight squads, men could single handedly take the game away from opposition

There is seldom anything slow or articulate about the cricket in IPL, or T20 in general. Sure, there is room for Ajinkya Rahane or Mahela Jayawardene’s pure strokeplay, or an occasional display of high class spin by the likes of Amit Mishra or Sunil Narine. But generally, it is all about full throttle slam-bang shot-making and in-your-face bowling. Yet, as we have seen over the last six seasons – when the pressure is on, wild sloggers fall away like boys and men with strength of body and mind rise. 

Armed with a piece of willow (which is almost entirely a ‘sweet spot’), favored by shorter boundaries and flat decks, and gifted with terrific hand-eye coordination, raw strength or simply immense self-belief – here are the 30 men who could turn ‘powerful’ into ‘overpowering’!

  1. Sunrisers HyderabadAaron Finch, David Warner, Daren Sammy – The team from Hyderabad impressed with their debut run last season, finishing in the top four. Their strategy yet again would rely on their impressive bowling attack (Steyn, Bhuvneshwar, Ishant, Amit Mishra, Karn Sharma) to restrict opposition within 120-140 ish. But their batting has decidedly more oomph this season with an all-Australian powerhouse at top. Finch and Warner can give the ball a serious battering. They also have the dangerous Darren Sammy lurking lower down the order, who can finish a match in a flurry of big hits. All this, with the confident Shikhar Dhawan also in the mix, promises a much better balance in the squad.
  2. Chennai Super Kings – M S Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum – Never mind their off-field issues, CSK still boast of a terrific record and an imposing batting roster. Raina, one of the most prolific IPL batsmen, combines an average of 35 with strike-rate of 141+ over nearly hundred IPL matches. If anything, Dhoni‘s finishing goes one better, with similar strike-rate and an even higher average (38). Dwayne Smith can burn a few trails of his own at the top, Mumbai Indian followers would know. Then there’s McCullum, the first IPL centurion and a dangerous man on his own. Add to it, the flair of Dwayne Bravo and spark of Faf duPlessis, opposition bowlers would know they are up against it.
  3. Delhi Daredevils – Kevin Pietersen, Dinesh Karthick, Quinton de Kock – Following a disastrous season, Delhi Daredevils have let go of some of their big name hitters in favor of a new squad. KP, free from international cricket commitments, is back in Delhi colors as the biggest threat for bowlers. 42+ average, 141+ S/R, and a big match player, Delhi would look to him as the leader of the pack. Dinesh Karthick stole the thunder from right under the nose of MI’s box office pair of Ponting and Tendulkar last season. Flavor of the season, de Kock adds serious spunk to the mix. Ross Taylor, Parnell and Duminy – each capable of some meaty blows, might play depending on four overseas players cap. They also have Saurabh Tiwary and Kedar Jadhav, two men known for big hits in the Indian domestic circuit. 
  4. Kings XI Punjab Glenn Maxwell, Virender Sehwag, David Miller, Thisira Perera – Surprise, surprise! For years, the ‘also rans’ in IPL sprang to life in the auction this season with some bargain buys and some of the smartest purchases. The result: a squad packed with enough batting firepower to boost their chances. Sehwag has the highest strike rate (160.32) in IPL history. David ‘in the arc, out of the park’ Miller is already part of IPL folklore. And Thisira Perera‘s big hits down the order need no introduction. Punjab however splurged on Glenn Maxwell, making him an IPL millionaire for the second consecutive season, and with reason. Maxwell’s 74(33) vs Pakistan, which included an 18-ball half century, and 45(22) vs West Indies in World T20 this year certainly is a good indicator of his striking prowess. The surprise weapon could be George Bailey, who has topped ODI run charts for much of last season. Serious quality, this!
  5. Kolkata Knight Riders Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Andre Russell – Kolkata relied on picking the horses for courses – spinners and medium pacers specializing in taking the pace off the ball, to score their IPL title in 2012. It also meant they had very few explosive batsmen in the squad. That plan  might backfire this season with a bunch of the matches being held in the flatter decks of UAE. Yusuf Pathan is a match-winner on his day, but his days have dwindled alarmingly since he left Rajasthan Royals. ten Doeschate rarely gets few matches on trot as Kolkata try to accommodate two other foreigners after Kallis and Narine. With McCullum gone, that might change. Russell is explosive with the bat, but also expensive with the ball. It remains to be seen if Bisla, Gambhir, Shakib or Manish Pandey can step up.
  6. Mumbai Indians Michael Hussey, Keiron Pollard, Rohit Sharma, Corey Anderson –  Defending champions Mumbai have retained two of their best bats, and bought two others who can prove to be solid backups. Pollard and Rohit Sharma are fearsome opponents, both adept at smashing spin and pace. While Pollard does it with raw power, Sharma relies on gifts of timing – but the result is usually the same: the ball in the second tier beyond the ropes. Nobody quite combines the worlds of cool accumulation, classy strokeplay and percentage hits like Mr.Cricket. Hussey‘s consistency could be the perfect antidote for Mumbai’s big ticket purchase Corey Anderson. The Kiwi shot to fame following his record-breaking ODI ton to eclipse Afridi’s long standing record. Remains to be seen if he can reproduce the form in IPL.
  7. Rajasthan Royals – Brad Hodge, Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny –  One of the two squads (SRH being another) who rely heavily on domestic talent to punch above their weight, the Royals yet again bought a promising line-up of international players who could be the difference. In Stuart Binny, Dishant Yagnik and Abhishek Nayar – they have Indian players who can hit it hard and fast, complementing the relatively risk-free strokeplay of Ajinkya Rahane and Unmukt Chand. Watson at top and Hodge as a finisher give them high quality power hitting options to set or challenge any total. What truly lends flexibility to this Royals line-up, are the options of international class all-rounders in Faulkner and Steven Smith, both capable of hitting it long, and adding handsome value with the ball. Now all they need to worry about, is the combination of four foreigners in playing eleven.
  8. Royal Challengers Bangalore – Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB DeVilliers, Albie Morkel, Yuvraj Singh –  The squad to make opposition bowlers quake in their boots! RCB splurged generously on acquiring Albie Morkel and Yuvraj Singh, both capable of fearsome assault on bowlers. Yuvraj’s recent form notwithstanding, there wouldn’t be too many bowlers fancying facing the man with the fastest T20I half-century and one of the highest international T20 strike-rates. To think that they are only additional gloss, on a line-up which is led by Kohli, perhaps the most consistent run-scorer across all forms of cricket right now and deVilliers, whose unconventional brilliance is capable of tearing even Dale Steyn to shreds. And then there is Gayle – most IPL tons, fastest IPL innings, 2nd highest S/R (160.2), highest average (52.33), 3rd on career run tally (including two of the top three IPL high scores) and gangnam! Enough said.

Let the fireworks begin! 

Image Credit: Fox Australia, Royal Challengers Bangalore

Mar 302014
Quick wickets hurt Australia's run-chase
NEW DELHI: ​Chasing a 160-run target, Australia got off to a bad start as they lost quick wickets in their ICC World T20 match at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.


Australia lost their first wicket when R Ashwin had opener Aaron Finch (6) caught by Virat Kohli at mid-on.

Soon after, Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck to dismiss Cameron White in the fifth over before Mohit Sharma dismissed the dangerous Shane Watson (1) in the very next over.

Aswhin then rubbed more salt on the Australian wounds when the offie picked up the wickets of David Warner (19) and Glenn Maxwell (23) in quick succession to leave the Aussies reeling at 56/5 after 10 overs.

It was time for Ravindra Jadeja to join the wicket-taking party after that when he dismissed the Australian skipper George Bailey (8), who hit just one smashing six in his short-lived innings.

Earlier, Yuvraj Singh finally got back to form with an impressive 60-run knock as India posted a competitive 159 for seven against Australia.

On a slow track, Yuvraj initially struggled before blasting four sixes and five boundaries in a 43-ball knock. It was also his eighth T20 International half-century in 38 matches.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni played the role of second fiddle to perfection, contributing 24 in an 84-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Dhoni lost the first toss in the tournament and as Ravichandran Ashwin had said yesterday, were forced “swim a tsunami” considering the adverse conditions for batting first on a slow Sher-e-Bangla track.

It wasn’t conducive for strokeplay as the Indian batsmen found out while trying to set a decent target. The Australian slow bowlers did a decent job in these conditions as India managed only 59 in the first 10 overs.

Australia opened their bowling with Brad Hodge and he got success removing the in-form Rohit Sharma (6) with a slider which the player tried to drive but got a thickish outside edge which went to James Muirhead standing at backward point.

Virat Kohli started with a slog sweep off Glenn Maxwell that went for a six and followed it by guiding Mitchell Starc to the third man boundary. But it didn’t last long enough as he tried to hoist leggie Muirhead over long-off but failed to clear Cameron White stationed for that catch. Kohli’s 23 came off 22 deliveries with two fours and a six.

Ajinkya Rahane was gone when Bollinger got a delivery to pitch on the off-middle line, which moved a shade with Rahane trying to steer it down. Brad Haddin held a regulation catch. Rahane scored 19 off 16 balls but couldn’t utilize the opportunity he got due to Shikhar Dhawan’s failure.

India were reeling at 52 for three when Suresh Raina joined Yuvraj.

Yuvraj was nervous from the onset as he was not middling the ball. A couple of times, he even misjudged the singles which could have cost India a wicket.

Raina also looked in trouble as the slowness of the pitch affected his stroke-making. Trying to hit his way out of trouble, the left-hander tried to hoist Maxwell but was caught by Aaron Finch at long-on. Raina managed only six.

Yuvraj finally broke the shackles when Muirhead bowled successive half-trackers which were posted in the deep mid-wicket stands as 17 runs came of that particular over which was the 14th of the innings. The first one bounced more than the second one but both met with the same fate.

Dhoni also got into the act after settling down as he first lifted Bollinger for a boundary over extra-cover and then hooked Starc for a six. Then came the shot of the innings when Yuvraj just stood and hit Starc over deep extra cover for a stunning six.

Yuvraj reached his half-century off 37 balls when he deposited a Watson full-toss over deep square leg for a six.

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