Sharjah: Glenn Maxwell played a whirlwind knock of 89 runs before David Miller provided the finishing touches with a breathtaking 19-ball 51 as Kings XI Punjab hammered Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in a high-scoring Indian Premier League match in Sharjah on Sunday. (Scorecard | Blog)
Chasing an imposing 192 to win, Maxwell and Miller put on display an incredible power-hitting show as Punjab overhauled the target with eight balls to spare.
Young batsman Sanju Samson (52) hit a classy half-century and Shane Watson (50) played a captain's knock to guide Rajasthan Royals to 191 for five after being put in to bat but their effort proved little.
It was Maxwell, who yet again played a gem of a knock, turning the match on its head with sensational hitting.
Maxwell's knock came off just 45 balls as he punished the bowlers with eight fours and six sixes. He did not spare a single Rajasthan bowler as it rained boundaries when he was batting in full flow.
The rivals bowlers were left clueless where to bowl as the Australian dealt only in fours and sixes. In 10 overs, Punjab were 69 for two but in the next three overs, Punjab scored 51 runs with Maxwell scoring 46 of them.
Maxwell hit nine boundaries, including two sixes, in those three overs, which changed the complexion of the game.
In his third-wicket partnership of 116 runs with Cheteshwar Pujara, Maxwell's contribution was 89 while Pujara (40 not out) was reduced to a spectator at the other end.
Kane Richardson stemmed the rot by dismissing Maxwell and at that time Punjab needed 66 off 37 balls. Left-handed Miller carried forward the good work with magnificent batting.
Miller hit four sixes off the paceman Dhawal Kulkarni as Punjab creamed off 27 runs in the 18th over. It was all over for Rajasthan in that over.
Punjab were actually off to a poor start as Virender Sehwag (2) yet again departed early. Sehwag hit his shot well off Kulkarni but found the fielder. Wriddhiman Saha (2) was scalped by James Faulkner and Punjab were reduced to 10 for two.
Maxwell took the fight to the rival camp with his fearless batting. He quickly completed his fifty while opener Pujara was holding the one end carefully.
Playing reverse sweeps with amazing success in his innings, Maxwell hit Rajat Bhatia for two consecutive boundaries to raise his fifty in 28 balls.
Earlier, 19-year-old Samson gave ample display of his class with his 52-run knock which came off just 34-balls and was laced with three fours and four sixes.
Watson too was at his vintage best as he smashed his way to a 29-ball 50, which was studded with eight boundaries including three sixes.
The two shared an explosive 74-run stand for the third wicket in just seven overs as it rained boundaries when they were batting together.
Down the order Steve Smith (27 not out) batted well for the Royals. Murali Karthik was most expensive bowler as he bled 51 runs in his four overs while spinner Akshar Patel was impressive giving away just 22 runs in his quota.
It was a good start for Rajasthan as Ajinkya Rahane (13) did not hesitate to charge down the wicket early in his innings when Punjab opted to start with left-arm spinner Patel. He also pulled with authority and his timing on the drives off pacemen was sweet.
Left-handed Abhishek Nayar (23) was also impressive with his timing as he lifted Parvinder Awana for a massive straight six after settling down. Rahane though was run out when sent back by Nayar after being called for a single.
Samson started aggressively, hitting Balaji for a four in the covers and a stunning six from the front foot to mid-wicket.
The Royals were cruising, reaching 54 for two in six overs but Karthik struck in his first ball by trapping Nayar. Samson though continued playing his own aggressive way and this time in the firing line was Karthik, who was smashed out of the park by the young batsman.
Watson joined and enjoyed luck as he was dropped by David Miller off Patel when he was on 8. The burly Australian made the Punjab side rue that dropped chance by hitting a flurry of boundaries.
Soon Watson outscored his young colleague and completed his fifty in just 28 balls. He reached the milestone with a six and a single off Awana.
Spinner Patel returned and brought big relief for his side by clean bowling the rival skipper.
Samson was dropped on 41 by Karthik in his follow-through but Stuart Binny (12) did not survive as Miller managed to hold on to a chance near boundary ropes off Mitchell Johnson.
Two wickets in quick succession put a brake on runs. Samson brought his fifty with a straight six off Awana. It was the fourth shot in his innings which flew over the ropes. He was bowled by the same bowler two balls later.