Kings XI Punjab's foreign recruits are on fire and last-year's million-dollar man is finally justifying his price tag. Glenn Maxwell, who got a million dollars from Mumbai Indians last year, and South African David Miller grabbed headlines on Sunday night after blowing away Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in a high-scoring Indian Premier League match in Sharjah.
Chasing 192 for a win, Kings XI rode a 45-ball 89 from Maxwell and a 19-ball 51 from South African Miller as Punjab won with eight balls remaining. Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Watson, who knows a bit or two about what power-packed batting is all about, was floored by his Australian teammate Maxwell's effort.
Speaking to reporters in Sharjah, Watson said: "Maxwell is the player to beat at the moment. He has done an incredible job for Kings XI. The team will not lose a single game if he plays like that over the next 14 games but everyone knows how cricket goes and it doesn't always pan out that way. Hopefully, the next time we play him, we will be able to contain him and a couple of others."
Maxwell has scored 184 runs in two innings at an average of 92.00, including two fifties. This is the highest runs' tally by any batsman in IPL 2014. Delhi Daredevils' Jean-Paul Duminy, with 119 without being dismissed in two innings, is the next highest.
"When Maxwell goes off like that, he is very difficult to contain. He hits on both sides of the wicket and that makes it very challenging but we continued to fight. That's how we are in the Rajasthan Royals," Watson said.
Maxwell's 89 off 45 balls is the second highest by a Punjab player against Rajasthan in the IPL, next only to Shaun Marsh's 115 in Mohali on May 28, 2008. (Stats: Miller slams fastest fifty by a KXIP batsman)
"There was a time during the Kings XI innings when we had it. If we had got Maxwell out then... there were a few close shaves but it wasn't meant to be," Watson said, pointing out that the momentum was moving. "Maxwell kept going and Cheteshwar Pujara kept doing what he did." (Highlights: Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab)
Although he knew his game, Watson said Maxwell was unstoppable. "When you play with guys for a while, you certainly know their game inside out. Everyone knows that Maxwell can be very unpredictable and dangerous. When he goes off like that, even if you know his game, it is hard to contain him," he said.
Watson also gave 25-year-old Miller a lot of credit. "We fought to stay in the game as long as we possibly could but Miller came in and put in some birdies. Kings XI have some powerful hitters and that makes it difficult at times, especially in smaller grounds, to contain high-quality, world-class batsmen like that," the Royals skipper said.